America

Still learning: Experts and survivors discover Covid-19s lingering effects

An angelic voice singing “Hallelujah” echoes off the stately stone and brick canyons of a narrow Montmartre street.

Advertising

Read more

Still struggling with Covid-19 complications two months after falling ill, Parisian soprano Veronica Antonelli wanted the impromptu performance from her third-floor balcony to project hope. Hours earlier, her doctor had delivered troubling news: The lung scarring that sometimes makes her too tired to sing may last for months. Or maybe years.

“It makes things a bit complicated, given my profession,” Antonelli said sadly.

The virus that has sickened over 4 million people around the world and killed more than 280,000 others is so new that patients face considerable uncertainty about what they can expect in recovery and beyond.

“The short answer is that were still learning,” said Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University in Atlanta. “What we know has been gathered mostly by anecdotal reports from Covid-19 survivors.”

In support groups created on social media sites, survivors post head-to-toe complaints that read like a medical encyclopedia: anxiety, heart palpitations, muscle aches, bluish toes. Its hard to know which ones are clearly related to the virus, but the accounts help fuel doctors increasing belief that Covid-19 is not just a respiratory disease.

We just have to be patient

Persistent exhaustion is a common theme, but every survivors story is different, said Brandy Swayze, a coronavirus sufferer who created a Facebook survivors group after developing pneumonia. She was hospitalized in late March and early April. Her fatigue comes and goes. Insomnia is another concern.

“Were just people who have more questions than anybody else about this thing because were going through it,” said Swayze, 43, of Cabin John, Maryland.

On top of her lung damage and fatigue, Antonelli has issues with her memory and a diminished sense of taste and smell – a common early symptom that lingers for many, which doctors say stems from the virus attacking nerves.

Two-thirds of patients in a study in Italy had a loss of smell and taste. Some reports suggest these problems last only a few weeks, but its been almost two months for Antonelli. She said that when she asked a voice specialist when she would be able to smell again, his answer was “We know nothing. We just have to be patient. We have no solution.”

Antonelli, 45, needs her stamina back to resume her offbeat career – singing opera a capella at outdoor monuments and historic sites, a profession she chose because she likes how natural environments shape her voice.

Stuck at home, she sings at her balcony when she can to bring happiness and thank health workers, grocers and others for their service during the pandemic. Some days, though, shes simply too tired to leave her bed.

Need to take it slow

In Wuhan, China, where Covid-19 emerged in December, physicians first considered it a type of pneumonia. But they came to realize “this virus is so smart. It just attacked everywhere in the body,” Dr. Xin Zheng of Wuhan Union Hospital said in a livestreamed webinar this month.

Lungs, hearts, kidneys, even the brain can be affected. Some hospitalized patients develop blood clots, while others have elevated enzymes suggesting liver abnormalities.

“Thats a very unique characteristic of it,” said Dr. Thomas McGinn of Northwell Health hospitals in New York. He co-authored the largest U.S. study of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, and a follow-up is planned to see how theyre faring in recovery.

Alex Melo, a retired marine from York, Maine, became critically ill with Covid-19 last month. He spent a few days on a ventilator for pneumonia, but also developed blood clots that threatened his heart and lungs. After two weeks in the hospital, he was sent home on blood thinners he must take for at least a few months.

The drugs make him prone to bleeding, and he worries how that will affect his work as a survival instructor for a Department of Defense contractor. But hes not ready for that work anyway. After two weeks at home, his lungs are still recovering and he cant run without getting winded.

“I need to take this slow, Melo said.

Post-intensive care syndrome

Reports from China suggest those with mild infections recover two to three weeks after first showing symptoms. For those with more serious infections, recovery may take six weeks, said Varkey, the infectious disease specialist.

But recovery may take much longer for those with the most severe infections, including patients who spent time in intensive care on ventilators or dialysis.

Wuhan doctors have reported heart problems in a small portionRead More – Source