Managing Long COVID Symptoms and Post-Pandemic Precautions
Since the transition to COVID-19 endemicity, we've witnessed a rapid return to pre-pandemic norms. However, the virus still persists in our communities, and those who have recovered from COVID-19 may experience a challenging condition known as "long COVID." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), long COVID is characterized by the continuation or development of new symptoms that arise at least 3 months after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection, with these symptoms persisting for at least 2 months with no other plausible explanation. These symptoms encompass general fatigue, coughing, breathing difficulties, headaches, fever, and more.
As someone who has had the privilege of working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) setting, I've observed that patients with severe COVID-19 infections often require sedation during their treatment. This can result in a deterioration of physical and lung function, making physiotherapy interventions critical. The goal is to mobilize patients as much as possible to prevent deconditioning. Numerous studies have suggested that early mobilization, especially during hospitalization, is immensely beneficial for patients. Simple activities like sitting up in bed, standing, and walking are crucial for maintaining physical function and can facilitate early discharge from the hospital once the patient is medically stable.
Even after discharge from the hospital, patients may continue to suffer from long COVID symptoms. However, continuous physiotherapy rehabilitation has proven effective in managing these symptoms. Therefore, it's essential for patients to be referred for physiotherapy services. Furthermore, remaining physically active and engaging in regular aerobic exercises is vital for maintaining lung function and overall well-being.
In conclusion, it's crucial for the public to remain vigilant and cautious in the face of the ongoing threat of COVID-19, even as it becomes endemic. Personal hygiene practices such as regular handwashing, wearing masks in public areas, and receiving COVID booster vaccinations remain essential steps to maintain good health in this new post-pandemic reality. Senior Physiotherapist
Wong Wee Yong