By Dr Hirenappa Udnur
Once a person contracts COVID-19 infection, he/she may exhibit common symptoms such as fever, cough and body ache, among others. However, the health issues may not end with testing negative for COVID-19 after recovery. Many people, even after recovering from COVID-19, experience issues, including post-COVID fatigue. Though a large number of people are able to sail through the infection without too many complications, the post COVID complications may impact normal life.
In many COVID-19 cases, after testing negative, patients continue to feel weak, gets tired very soon after simple routine tasks, feel sleepy even after getting ample sleep, find it difficult in focusing/concentrating. Some also experience pains and aches, shivering of limbs and many other associated physical issues. It is important to allow time for your body to recuperate.
COVID-19 infection can have continuing effects for a couple of months, sometimes up to six to eight months after you have tested negative. The key is to allow the body to heal, facilitate it with what is required for the same and slowly get back to the normal lifestyle. Do not push yourself to get back to the things that you used to do, such as routine exercise, physically demanding jobs, mentally exerting activities. This road to recovery may be extensive and exhausting, but if you take good care, you can manage it. Here are some points to remember and follow to ensure proper recovery:
> Continue to follow the safety protocols: Post COVID-19 recovery, the patient is vulnerable to infections as his immunity levels will still be low. Stay away from any gatherings. Do not go out unless it is an emergency, and in such a case, make sure you wear a mask, maintain physical distance and sanitise your hands whenever needed.
> Go easy on exercise: Build your strength gradually. Start with slow walks for a short duration. Listen to your body and take rest when you feel it is required; it is not important to go by the pre-set time. Breathing exercises and meditation can be good to start with. Avoid heavy workouts as your body is weak and still recovering.
> Ensure natural vitamin D: The coronavirus infection will decrease Vitamin D levels in the body. It is best to get it naturally. Get at least 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight, preferably in the morning.
> Nutritious diet: A nourishing diet is essential while recouping. Ensure to have a balanced and easily digestible meal. Avoid excess sugar, oil and processed food. Be cautious with your diet if you already have any of the lifestyle diseases. Plan your diet accordingly.
> Stay hydrated: Dehydration is also a reason for tiredness. Increasing your liquid intake will help fight fatigue. One should properly hydrate themselves and see that electrolytes are maintained to get better with the weakness and fatigue.
> Maintain a sleep cycle: Sleep early to wake up early. Waking up early gives a positive and energetic vibe and a great start to your day. It can make you feel productive; it also contributes to mental health. Develop a good sleep pattern and ensure it daily. Stay away from using gadgets after a certain time in the night.
> Stay happy and have fun: Getting a negative COVID-19 test result itself is a big reason to be happy. Indulge in fun activities that can relax your mind and body. Read your favourite book, listen to music, watch your favourite series or take up art and craft activities to keep yourself cheerful and active. Remember to take breaks in between and get enough rest. Do not exert, be realistic and kind to yourself. Speak to a counsellor or a mental health expert if you feel depressed, anxious or have other concerns in mind.
Dr Hirenappa Udnur is a Consultant-Pulmonologist at the Columbia Asia Hospital in Hebbal, a unit of Manipal Hospitals.