The lockdown is over, the number of infections in Germany is stable at a low level, you can meet up with your buddies again and holidays in sunny holiday destinations such as Spain and Italy are possible again.
For many Germans, the corona pandemic feels almost over, or as if they had taken a summer break. But that’s not correct. On the contrary: it is becoming more and more evident that an infection is not only still easily possible, but also that it can have unforeseen long-term consequences. We’ll tell you which.
Is the danger from the corona virus over?
The impression is deceptive. The virus is still there and contagious as before. Parties on Mallorca, Ibiza and Sylt can turn into super-spreader events in no time. And just because you’re young and healthy doesn’t mean you can get away with mild flu if you get infected. The symptoms subside for most people, but is this really over with the Covid-19 lung disease? It would be nice.
Because Covid-19 brings with it a number of problems that are different from the usual flu. More and more studies show that patients still suffer from consequential damage – even if they were already considered cured or had mild progress. We’ll tell you what long-term consequences of Covid-19 are possible.
Which Covid-19 patients are affected by long-term consequences?
The big problem: The long-term consequences can affect anyone. Regardless of whether you have had a severe or milder course of the disease – Covid-19 leaves its mark in many cases, even after recovery. Doctors cannot yet explain how the virus can affect organs other than the lungs.
It is also not known which long-term effects occur most frequently. Because scientists around the world have only been researching Sars-CoV-2 for a few months and are therefore not yet able to make any reliable statements. Many doctors are already reporting on their experiences with long-term effects in recovered patients.
What are the most common long-term effects of a Covid 19 infection?
Covid-19 is more than just a lung disease. The corona virus also affects other organs – and could cause serious long-term damage. These are the most common long-term effects after an infection:
1. Shortness of breath and shortness of breath after Covid-19
Damage to the lungs is the most obvious long-term consequence of Covid-19 – after all, it is a lung disease. Doctors at the Center for Infectious Diseases at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong were able to determine reduced lung function and persistent shortness of breath in recovered corona patients in March.
The study authors said the results could provide initial indications of long-term effects. A study from Italy published in the journal “ Jama Network ” also shows that 43.4 percent of the patients examined still suffered from shortness of breath after overcoming the illness.
2. Strokes and brain infections caused by corona infection
Yes, according to studies, Covid-19 can also cause damage to the brain. These include brain infections, strokes, delirium and psychosis. All of this could affect everyone with the disease, because such long-term effects apparently also occur with a mild course of the disease.
British researchers at University College London were able to determine neurological damage in 43 recovered Covid-19 patients. 12 had encephalitis, 10 had temporary brain dysfunction, and 8 of the subjects had nerve damage. Not all of the patients had serious illness. “We have never seen the way Covid-19 attacks the brain with other viruses,” said study author Michael Zandi in the journal ” Brain “.
Doctors at Southampton University Hospital have evaluated reports of neurological problems following Covid 19 disease. British neurologists and psychiatrists reported late effects such as strokes (66 patients) and psychoses (10 patients) in over 150 reports. So-called delirium also occurred, which, to put it simply, means a severe state of confusion with delusions. 39 patients suffered from changes in consciousness.
Why the brain could also be affected by the lung disease is still a mystery to researchers. Some suspect that Covid-19 can also indirectly cause neurological problems, for example through damage to the lungs, kidneys and heart. The brain could suffer from a lack of oxygen or clotting disorders, according to a US study by the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Illinois. Another theory is that the coronavirus even affects the brain directly.
3. Covid-19 could cause diabetes
Diabetics are among the risk groups for a severe course of Covid 19 disease. But now there are also indications from doctors that the lung disease could even trigger diabetes. They report in the ” New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)” that there could be a connection between diabetes and an infection with the corona virus.
There is even talk of a possible new form of type 1 diabetes, in which the corona virus attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The body can no longer control the blood sugar level by itself. Typically, in type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks these beta cells. So far, however, there are only a few cases in which corona patients have diabetes. Doctors from Singapore reported about a 37-year-old man who was diagnosed with diabetes after surviving Covid-19 disease.
4. Persistent fatigue in over half of Covid-19 patients
It may be a less serious symptom, but what is most striking is the frequency. 53.1 percent of the patients in the Italian study continued to suffer from fatigue or exhaustion 60 days after surviving Covid 19 disease. Doctors even report an increase in the so-called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), i.e. a chronic fatigue syndrome.
As early as the Sars epidemic in 2003, 10 percent of the 273 people infected in Toronto had symptoms such as weakness or persistent fatigue after recovering from illness. According to the Berlin Charité, infections can generally lead to so-called post-infectious fatigue, in which patients are exhausted or tired even months after the illness. However, if these and other typical symptoms such as joint, muscle and headaches as well as stress and racing heart when standing up continue for more than 6 months, CFS is usually referred to.
5. Heart damage as a long-term corona consequence
Does the corona virus also affect the heart? Some studies and reports from China, the EU, and the US suggest that Covid-19 could also cause heart damage. Doctors report heart muscle inflammation, chronic heart failure and an abnormally enlarged heart muscle.
There is also talk of damaged heart valves and cardiac arrhythmias. However, it is also not clear here whether the virus affects the heart directly or whether the possible long-term consequences are due to other factors. It is conceivable that the heart damage is a result of corona-related inflammation in the body.
Only distance, mask and hygiene can help against the long-term effects of Covid-19
Further studies are still required in order to be able to specifically identify the long-term consequences of Covid-19 and to find out how often they occur. But regardless of the outcome, don’t forget: it can hit you too.
Therefore, stay vigilant, keep the distance and hygiene rules even on vacation and when meeting friends, because your health is not only at risk in the short term, but also in the long term.
The corona virus not only attacks the lungs, but also other areas of the body. Shortness of breath, strokes or tiredness: More and more studies show long-term effects of Covid 19 disease. This damage often occurs even after a mild course of the disease.