What happens after patients ‘recover’ from COVID? Normal can be elusive

at main images online feature covid long haulers

Surviving Covid-19 is hard enough for those who get severely ill from the disease, but returning to normal is a struggle, too, according to new research that found survivors were likely to face health and financial hardships even months later.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Vineet Chopra of the University of Michigan Health System looked at 488 Covid-19 patients treated and released from hospitals in Michigan. They surveyed them about two months after their release, between March 16 and July 1.

A third of the survivors reported ongoing health issues, such as cough, new or worsening conditions and persistent loss of taste or smell, the researchers reported this week in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Nearly half said they were “emotionally affected” by their illness and a small number, 28, sought mental health care after discharge.

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Of those employed before their illness, 40% said they either lost their job or were too sick to return to work. Just over a quarter of those who returned to work reported reduced hours or modified responsibilities.

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“For most patients who survived, ongoing morbidity, including the inability to return to normal activities, physical and emotional symptoms, and financial loss, was common,” Chopra’s team wrote.

“These data confirm that the toll of Covid-19 extends well beyond hospitalization,” the study concluded.

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