Fewer patients have shown long Covid symptoms this time, say doctors

Monika Yadav | | Updated on: Feb 11, 2022
File pic: A healthworker prepares an ‘oxygen triage facility’ for Covid-19 patients at Omandurar Government hospital in Chennai.

File pic: A healthworker prepares an ‘oxygen triage facility’ for Covid-19 patients at Omandurar Government hospital in Chennai. | Photo Credit: R Senthil Kumar

People with weak immunity and co-morbidities at risk

It may be early days yet to understand long Covid-19, or the long-term impact that SARS-CoV-2 has on a patient’s health. But doctors observe that a smaller section of people have shown symptoms of long Covid during the current wave as compared to those recovering from the earlier Delta wave.

Long Covid manifests in different ways including headache, breathlessness, throat pain, wet cough, fatigue, stuffy nose, anxiety etc. But in some patients it can take on a more serious nature, affecting the heart, kidney and even brain, say doctors and this is being seen to last from weeks after infection to a year or more.

In Mumbai nearly 10 per cent of Covid patients have complained of Long Covid symptoms like body ache, headache, lack of concentration, cough, insomnia and anxiety, say doctors. Pointing out that long Covid cases are less this time around, Dr Kirti Sabnis at Fortis Hospital (Mumbai) said, that immunocompromised people and those with multiple co=morbidities showlong Covid symptoms. “It is being seen mainly in the elderly population, but it is not necessarily linked with age,” Sabnis, told BusinessLine.

About 5 per cent of the infected population in the Delhi/NCR region have shown long Covid symptoms, compared to 10-15 per cent during the Delta wave, say doctors. “Most of those suffering from long Covid are above 60 years of age. And they are those who have got infected with the Delta variant as it still persists. These people have either co-morbid conditions or they have weak immunity,” Dr Virender Yadav, Chief Medical Officer, Gurgaon stated.

“During this wave, those facing Covid symptoms are less than 5 per cent, as against 10-15 per cent during the Delta wave. During the second wave, according to studies, 10-15 per cent had loss of taste and smell in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP),” said Dr Suresh Kumar, Managing Director, LNJP Hospital, Delhi.

Similarly, Dr Narrottam Sharma, Chief Medical Officer in Jaipur, echoed these observations. He said most of those grappling with these symptoms were over 60 years and had comorbidities.

Monitor and manage

At Hyderabad’s Yashoda Hospitals, Dr Gopi Krishna Yedlapati, Consultant Interventional Pulmonoligist, points out that people with long Covid symptoms were over 50 years. “Less than two or three per cent have this syndrome this time around. It is also little early to speak about the emerging scenario .... Most of the patients in ICU are a mixture of Omicron and Delta.”

Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and Head of Department (Pulmonology), Fortis Escorts Hospital (Faridabad) said, “the Delta variant leads to more severe symptoms because it can easily enter the lungs through the respiratory tract and multiplies very fast thereby affecting multiple organs. Whereas the Omicron variant doesn’t enter the lungs and attacks the upper respiratory tract (hence less threatening).”

Though the numbers may seem to be small, the long-term implications are worrying doctors. Long Covid symptoms are monitored, along with paying attention to the individual’s weight management, nutrition and sleep, among other things. For instance, patients having a loss of smell for a long period are prescribed a nasal spray, says Dr Jha, so their daily routine is not affected.

Published on February 10, 2022
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