Perhaps the only good news being projected recently has been that of COVID-19 survivors. Their recovery process has been brutal, no doubt, but how are patients recovering from the virus? What does the process entail? Doctors have done plenty of research in an attempt to discover the how to recover from this coronavirus. People of an advanced age are still more likely to suffer heavily from the virus, but recovery should still be the end goal for every patient. Below are some things the public should know about the COVID-19 recovery process.
What We Know About the COVID-19 Recovery Process
A majority of people (greater than 80%) will experience mild symptoms, or none at all. A full recovery is expected to take a few weeks, and a patient may feel fatigued and achy, as well as restricted breathing. There is still very little information about potential recovery for patients with moderate illnesses. These people will typically spend a few days in the hospital and will likely require more breathing treatments than patients with no underlying conditions. Further, some patients experience bouts of diarrhea and may require IV fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. There is also the possibility that COVID patients could suffer significant heart damage. The timeline for recovery is unknown, some people may only require some oxygen and IV fluids in order to leave the hospital in two days. Others may need a little more extensive care before going home to quarantine.
What About Serious Cases?
The sickest patients suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and often end up on mechanical ventilators. Some young patients can still recover, but probably not with a preexisting condition. Those who are older and suffer from illnesses such as COPD are least likely to survive ARDS. Suffering ARDS from infection, rather than trauma, puts patients at a higher risk for becoming deathly ill. This is not specific to COVID, but it is the cause of the current wave of this syndrome. These patients will likely require weeks of mechanical ventilation, also requiring some degree of medication due to discomfort from the ventilator. In order for someone with a severe case to come off ventilation they must:
- be awake enough to protect their swallowing mechanism and airway;
- have a low enough need for oxygen that can be supported with something else;
- be able to clear enough carbon dioxide
When Can Patients be Discharged?
A patient needs to be able to feed his/herself and move around, or at least have someone at home that can care for them around the clock if necessary. However, patients can be released with supplemental oxygen if they are still needing respiratory assistance. The alternative to being discharged is receiving more specialized treatment or rehab. It is still impossible to say who will and will not recover, but further research once the spread of the virus truly dies down will be able to find patterns. Another hurdle in the recovery process is the number of cases: there are only so many doctors and so much equipment to go around, it is impossible to give each person all the care and attention they may require to properly recover from the virus. If the virus becomes a seasonal occurrence, there should be fewer cases after more research and hospitals will have the means to care for COVID patients.
Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus!
As always, stay in your homes as much as possible. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces in your home and cars regularly. If you are still going to the office each day, sanitize your hands regularly throughout your shift and keep your workspace clean. If you feel sick, do NOT go to work, for your sake as well as those around you. Maintain a safe distance from people in public at all times, but most importantly: maintain your health! Reach out to your doctor by phone before going into a clinic or hospital.
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