DANUSKA DA GAMA | NT BUZZ
The COVID vaccine may be here. But people remain sceptic about it, and those who have recovered from disease are under the impression that they are now immune to Corona and hence don’t want or need a shot.
But can recovered patients throw all caution to the wind? Do they need to wear masks or maintain social distancing and follow other safety protocol? Can they go back to living their lives the way they did before their encounter with the virus?
Zarino Dias, a junior resident in pharmacology and therapeutics at Goa Medical College, who has been treating COVID patients, advises caution. After contracting coronavirus, he says, the effects of this infection can last for quite some time even when the virus is no longer in the body. “This is due to the way the virus has affected you and the extent of the damage it has caused on your body. In fact, no two people respond the same way and this is the biggest mystery of the virus,” he says.
Thus, just getting a negative result for the virus post infection is not the end of the treatment. “Patient and their family will be given a follow up treatment protocol by their doctor. The treatment or management that is targeted specifically to address this is called post-COVID treatment,” he says, adding that feeling better is no excuse here. Follow up treatment has to be strictly adhered to. Good hygiene and nutrition are a must along with understanding the importance of mental health and stress management. Lastly, he says, adding that this is sadly forgotten, it is essential that the patient undergoes physiotherapy to gain back the strength and lung function. Dias believes it’s difficult to explain what the body goes through with the virus. “Reactions to the virus can be different. One reason that causes the serious form of the disease is actually an overreaction of the body’s immune system,” he explains. Here, the body goes into a state where it starts attacking its own cells in a bid to wipe out the virus. If this stage is not treated well, slowly the organs start getting damaged and it could lead to death.
“Doctors treat this stage with more specialised drugs and intensive therapy. There is however no ‘one treatment fits all’ scenario as of now and it varies as per the patient,” he points out.
And of course, wearing a mask and maintaining respiratory etiquettes have to be maintained, he says. Besides this, strenuous activities ought to be avoided soon after recovery. Exercise and staying away from stress and meditative exercises should be part of the daily routine on the path to recovery.
“Don’t have a false sense of security that you won’t get COVID again,” Dias stresses firmly, stating that nobody should delay going to the doctor if any new symptom is developed or if one is not feeling well.
And Dias stresses on the need to take the vaccine when the turn arises, even if you have had the virus before.
Luckily, there are not many dietary restrictions, but Dias recommends having an intake of more veggies, fruits and homecooked meals. “A doctor might advice eating certain foods if there are other pre-existing conditions,” he says.
Patient A was asymptomatic. She recovered and joined work within 21 days and faces no problem whatsoever. “I’ve been eating healthy food, staying positive and moving on. So, my immunity is absolutely fine,” she says.
On the other hand, Patient B still complains about fatigue and exhaustion at times. “I couldn’t exercise as much as I would before COVID and felt the need to keep pushing myself to complete my daily routine,” he says. He’s not incorporated any change in the diet but adds that he is doing a lot of breathing exercises to improve functioning of his lungs.
Why does one feel weak and fatigued?
The body has spent a lot of its energy fighting the virus, which causes weakness, says Dias. “Some organs might also get damaged a bit, making it difficult to perform routine work. The lungs may get damaged too, making it difficult to breathe normally. All these contribute to weakness. But how long it lasts differs with every patient,” he says.