Complications after COVID-19 disease

Complications after COVID-19 disease

COVID-19 is a disease that we have known for a little over a year. This is a very short period of time from the perspective of conducting scientific research on the long-term effects of this disease on the human body. However, let’s summarize what we know now.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a member of the coronavirus family. It is an infectious disease of the respiratory system, transmitted by the droplet route. In 60-70 or even more percent of people, coronavirus infection is asymptomatic or sparsely symptomatic (mild cold-like symptoms, worse physical or mental condition).

Other patients are symptomatic (most often: fever, cough, general “breakout,” muscle aches, headaches, low exercise tolerance, smell and taste disorders, less often diarrhea, skin lesions and other uncharacteristic symptoms). 60-70% of symptomatic patients make a complete recovery within 1 to 4 weeks.

Post-COVID-19 syndrome

However, many weeks or even several months after experiencing COVID-19, about 30% of patients still say they have not returned to their pre-COVID condition for various reasons. “Post-COVID-19 syndrome” is the persistence of symptoms more than 12 weeks after contracting the disease, such as:

  • cough
  • rapid heartbeat, decreased exercise tolerance
  • muscle or joint pains (arm pain)
  • hair loss
  • various neurological or psychiatric disorders, which occur in 30-80% of patients – the most common are:
  • memory and attention disorders (the so-called “covid fog”),
  • a feeling of general fatigue,
  • increased daytime sleepiness and nocturnal insomnia,
  • depressive disorders,
  • anxiety disorders,
  • headaches,
  • balance disorders,
  • tinnitus,
  • visual disturbances,
  • loss of smell and taste,
  • sensory disturbances (numbness, tingling, burning in the extremities)

The most common organ complication after COVID-19 is interstitial fibrosis of the areas of the lungs that were affected by the virus. This fibrosis is an adverse effect of immune cells that have fought off the coronavirus. They can be diagnosed with a simple chest X-ray and are encountered even in people who have had a mild course of illness with no signs of pneumonia. While fibrosis involving small areas of the lungs may not cause any palpable sequelae, extensive fibrosis, especially involving both lungs, can cause permanent impairment of physical performance and even respiratory failure.

Coronavirus can also cause:

  • thromboembolic complications (thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, cerebral stroke),
  • cardiovascular complications (myocarditis, acute coronary syndrome and myocardial infarction, arrhythmias),
  • kidney damage (kidney failure),
  • damage to the central nervous system (psychotic disorders, dementia, involuntary tremor),
  • destabilization of pre-existing medical conditions (primarily diabetes, but also hypertension, thyroid disease).

Complications after COVID-19 infection can also occur in asymptomatic or sparse survivors. Therefore, it is advisable to observe your body and – if you observe symptoms indicating possible complications after COVID-19, perform the necessary tests and consult your doctor.


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