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Living with ‘Long COVID-19’: The long-term complications and sequelae


Abstract: Introduction - the perennial pandemic: It is being increasingly realised that the COVID-19 may have become the new reality associated with human existence world over and the mankind may have to live with it for years or even decades. Further, the grievous nature of the disease is evolving further with the genomic changes in the virus in form of mutations and evolution of variants, with enhanced infectivity and probably virulence. There are serious challenges posed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 as the disease. COVID-19 as acute and chronic disease: On exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, not all patients develop a disease. Further, for those who develop the disease, there is a large variation in disease severity. The known factors including the constituent factors and several still unknown factors influence the disease manifestations, its course, and later the convalescent phase as well. In fact, substantial continuing morbidity after resolution of the infection indicates persisting multisystem effects of COVID-19. The ‘long COVID-19’ or ‘long haulers’: The patients who continue to suffer with persisting symptoms have been described as long haulers and the clinical condition has been called post-COVID-19 or ‘long COVID-19’. The diagnosis should be entertained if various symptoms and signs linger well beyond the period of convalescence in COVID-19. With the chronicity, there occur inflammatory changes and damage in various organs, and the extent of organ damage determines the long-term effects. Management of ‘long COVID’ syndrome: The ‘long COVID’ syndrome has multi-system involvement, variable presentation, and unpredictable course. Following clinical and investigational assessment, the patients should be managed as per clinical manifestations, extent of organ damage and associated complications. The findings from various studies indicate that preventing further organ damage in ‘long COVID’ is crucial. The long COVID’s prognostic challenges: As apparent, the ‘long COVID’ afflictions are more common than realized earlier. The symptoms can escalate in patients with co-morbid conditions. The persistent symptoms among COVID-19 survivors pose new challenges to the healthcare providers and may be suitably managed with a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, and holistic healthcare.
Keywords: virus / long COVID / evolution / persisting symptoms / course / pose / morbidity / treatments

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