Coronavirus: endless symptoms for some patients, months after
For some patients, Covid-19 is a disease they cannot see the outcome of. Witnesses are multiplying, of people for whom the Covid-19 did not need to be hospitalized. But several months after the first symptoms, these patients are still not rid of the effects of the disease.
Their stories can be found on social media, Twitter, for example. They are identified by # apresJ20, # apresJ90, or #covidlong. And all have one thing in common, after periods of several months, they still experience symptoms of SARS-Cov2 to the point of always having to lead a life in slow motion. "Since the end of February chest pains, difficulty breathing, periods of improvement and then a relapse. I am 21 years old and by the time all people of my age resume sport, I wonder if I could someday do it again, "said Polo McCaffrey on Twitter.
For another Twitter subscriber reached for 96 days, it is also a pain: "At D96, my main symptoms are chest pain, as if the area around the sternum / plexus is congested / inflamed permanently. Who recognizes himself in this description and managed to get out and how? ", he asks, looking for help. Same thing for this other person, Lily who addresses the other patients: "Did you have the feeling of throat tightened and narrowed to the point of having the phobia of suffocation, bad eating, and post-meal discomfort + fever after 3 months? ", she wrote.
Shortness of breath, intense fatigue, loss of taste, chest tightness ...
Persistent symptoms vary, but all of these long-lived Covid-19 patients suffer and wonder especially when this will end. At 37, Anne-Sophie Spiette, from Stoumon, was in this uncertainty. It was contaminated with Covid-19. She went to the emergency room several times because she was very short of breath, had severe chest pain. However, she was never hospitalized.
Admittedly, 10% of her lungs were affected by Covid-19, but she did not require hospitalization. After two weeks, the "flu" symptoms subsided but everything was far from over: "The other symptoms stayed with ups and downs. After three or four weeks, we thought it was over but 5 days later, it started all over again, especially in the lungs. Today, I am still very short of breath, I have chest pain, intestinal problems, large drops in blood pressure and fatigue. I have to sleep a lot, I don't I don't know how to do much. I have trouble climbing stairs, having a conversation on the phone. It's everyday life that I can't do well. At 37, I was in good health before " , she sums up, describing her daily life.
Anne-Sophie Spiette would like to return to work, which she is still unable to do. She remains optimistic but admits going through moments of doubt: "I'm a big optimist but I'm starting to despair. I see on Facebook groups some patients who are 140 days old. I'm only 90. scares the rest, "she explains.
Not all of these long-term Covid-19 patients have the same symptoms. The most common are shortness of breath, intense fatigue, loss of taste or chest tightness. Today, these patients hope that medicine is interested in their cases. "The medical profession should start to think about long-term Covid patients, who have not been hospitalized because the priority was serious cases. But there, we will all end up depressed. The others have not necessarily the same symptoms as me but it's hard for everyone. We would like things to move. "
Faced with these cases, medicine seems lacking. Some patients say they wonder if they are taken seriously. For flu, no longer having a fever, no longer being contagious, this often means for the doctor that his patient is cured. However, this does not necessarily mean that the patient has regained his form before the illness. There may be a more or less long period, convalescence, before the patient has fully recovered. For long-term patients with Covid-19, it is the same mechanism. The length of convalescence varies. The state of form also.
5-10% of Covid-19 patients have long-term symptoms
First you have to differentiate between people who have developed a severe Covid-19 and who, for example, have been intubated in intensive care. "For these people, it is normal to keep painful convalescence symptoms for a long time", explains Charlotte Martin, infectious disease specialist at CHU Saint-Pierre, in Brussels. "And there are people who have made a more moderate Covid, hospitalized or not, without gravity and who, after the acute phase, fever etc, will essentially keep an abnormal fatigability, an abnormal shortness of breath at the least effort, great sportsmen who can no longer resume their sport, even to a lesser extent, chest pain. These are the symptoms we hear most often ", continues Charlotte Martin
According to the infectious disease specialist at CHU Saint-Pierre, 5 to 10 of the patients who have developed symptoms of Covid-19 have symptoms of long duration, sometimes lasting several months.
Other viral diseases also have long-lasting effects
The Covid 19 is no exception. "It is not the first infectious disease that gives this kind of thing", explains Charlotte Martin. "We have multiple examples. In terms of viruses, mononucleosis can give symptoms that drag on for several months. Dengue, chikungunya are tropical viruses that can also give abnormal fatigability, joint pain and weird pain for several months, "she continues.
Should "Covid" patients worry?
"We do not yet have much perspective on whether 100% of these people will fully recover. What is important is to be able to identify these people to ensure that they do not make their Covid complication "says Charlotte Martin. It is then based on the experience of mononucleosis or chikungunya: "We know that these are people who will be relieved by multidisciplinary care, where we will combine physical activity, nutritional advice, etc. Several Health professionals may be needed to support these people, "she said.
The infectious disease specialist also reassures on one point: the risk of contagion. In people who develop a long-lived Covid-19, they are unlikely to have remained contagious. Certainly, when a PCR test is carried out, traces of the virus remain, but we should not worry, according to the infectiologist: "These tests use molecular biology. We do not detect the live virus. We detect its genetic material We know that it can remain in the respiratory tract for many weeks without necessarily saying that we are contagious and that the virus is still viable and can be transmitted to someone else, "reassures Charlotte Martin. Three months later, the risk of being contagious would therefore be almost zero, according to the infectious disease specialist.
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