From the cursed Covid-19, on some occasions, it is not completely healed even when it is cured: it means that the virus leaves heavy aftermaths in the organism of those affected by the infection even after a few months from the end of the positivity.
Where “long Covid” hits
A short time ago we took care of (click who for the article) of two studies, one French and the other American, which confirmed consequences neurological in the long term even by those who have been affected by the virus only in a mild way: the most frequent symptoms concerned after-effects on mental abilities with memory loss and difficulty concentrating. It is what scholars call “long Covid syndrome” which can last for a few months causing fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell.
What the first studies say. An important research published in the British magazine Bmj Journals was conducted on 384 individuals hospitalized with the disease and showed that 53% of them ran out of breath during a follow-up evaluation one or two months later, with 34% having a cough and 69 % reported experiencing fatigue. The most recent study, however, is the one just published in the prestigious journal The Lancet on 1,733 patients with Covid discharged from a Chinese hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic. Well, six months after the onset of the disease, 76% of them reported at least one symptom which persisted: the most frequent was related to muscle fatigue and weakness. Furthermore, more than 50% had chest abnormalities regardless of disease severity. These results are consistent with those of previous small studies that reported persistent radiological and pulmonary diffusion abnormalities in a sizeable proportion of patients affected by the virus even three months after hospital discharge.
“Taste and smell compromised for months”
“In addition to the neurological symptoms already mentioned, anosmia (do not smell) e already (when you don’t feel the flavors) are a long-term consequence of Covid quite important because they persist even after so many months. I recently met a patient for a follow-up and from March to today, after almost a year, he has not recovered any ability to smell and smell “, he said exclusively for ilGiornale.it Prof. Marco Falcone, researcher of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pisa, under the Aoup operational unit and member of the board of directors of Turkish bagel (Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases). Therefore, one of the first alarm bells when contracting the virus, unfortunately, can remain even months after recovery. “It is linked to a direct damage of the virus on the nerve cells that regulate the sense of smell and, unfortunately, a lot of damage can be irreversible. It could be that, for some of these patients, they may have this type of consequence”, adds the researcher.
As we now know, the organ that Covid damages the most is the lungs and the relative ones interstitial pneumonia in the most severe forms. In an in-depth study of the past months we interviewed a pulmonologist (who the full interview) who explained to us how the mucosa of the bronchi where the virus attaches itself is at risk, causing an inflammatory reaction common to other respiratory viruses but, in this case, much stronger. The extent of the inflammatory reaction can give rise to mild forms of bronchitis or bronchopulminitis without particular respiratory complications, or it can lead to interstitial bronchopneumonia, affecting the “walls” of the respiratory tree.
The problem, however, can persist even after the healing and the lungs may remain compromised in the long term. “We also have consequences at the lung level, some patients develop the ‘restrictive syndrome’ in which the lung undergoes fibrosis: pneumonia, when it is particularly severe, causes scarring in some areas of the lung. The consequence is that the lung does not it expands more correctly. Some with severe pneumonia, who have been intubated and have had a very severe form of breathing, may have less respiratory function than they had before Covid, “the researcher told us.
One of the most common syndromes seen on former Covid patients is fatigue, a fatigue which can last many months regardless of the severity of the disease. To a first study published in Nature su 143 people discharged from a hospital in Rome which found that 53% reported fatigue and 43% had shortness of breath, on average, two months after the onset of symptoms, another very significant one was added. in the scientific journal Plos One where over half of the participants reported persistent fatigue several months after the initial symptoms of the disease. The triggering cause of everything, however, is still unknown.
“This syndrome has not yet been understood: the reason why some patients continue to manifest this profound fatigue even after months of the disease is not known. Studies are trying to understand if they exist alterations, of any nature, that can justify this situation “, Falcone told us. It must be said that these patients are now considered ex-patients because, from a clinical point of view, they are considered healthy despite the profound tiredness that accompanies them from months. “Some have difficulty getting back to work but what the basic mechanism is is difficult to say. Some scholars hypothesize a strong psychological component that influences the state of things “.
There is little talk of it but a slice of the Italian population has suffered, and not a little, the confinement of the initial months. For the virus positives forced into isolation, it was even more difficult to overcome the disease, so much so that one developed syndrome post-Covid depression. “It’s another long-term symptom: many people, both among those predisposed to suffer from these disorders but also among those who are not, have developed a depressive form due to the disease but also to the restrictions and confinement of recent months. Many have been confined to a room for 1-2 months because they are ill and positive – Falcone told us – The trauma is also of a psychological nature and is associated with rather serious forms so much so that in Italy there have been some suicides related to this reason. Visits to psychiatry clinics have increased as a post-Covid form of depression. “
Stress, fear of illness, house lockdown and lockdown, regardless of illness, have been experienced by many people as a strong trauma who later developed this type of syndrome. But there is also a social problem, not indifferent, which has led to the exclusion of those who have been infected. “Having had Covid leads the people around it to consider it infected: even within the family, the person can feel excluded. There are important psychological implications on such a disease: it is important, for this reason, that it is the privacy of patients and all health information is maintained, otherwise unjustified exclusionary behaviors can be implemented “.
Are there cures?
Healed from the disease but with post-Covid symptoms still present: what can this category of people do? Are there any treatments? “Some neurology centers are investigating what those might be solutions to anosmia and geusia hoping that cells as delicate as those that regulate tastes and odors have not been inevitably compromised; the depressive syndrome is treated with drugs, therapy and psychotherapy while pulmonary fibrosis is the more critical aspect. Some studies are underway by experts in the sector to understand how to avoid fibrotic evolution: to date, cortisone and corticosteroids should be effective in limiting this evolution “, underlines Prof. Falcone.” Covid remains, alas, a pathology still all from to discover: some long-term consequences we are not yet able to understand, it is a new disease that is being studied at the moment “.