Recovering from COVID-19

Hearing survival stories of COVID-19 has been a light during these dark times. Patients’ recovery process has been brutal, no doubt, but how exactly are they recovering from the virus? There is only so much we know about the virus itself, and the recovery process does not have definite steps. However, doctors have done plenty of research in an attempt to discover how to recover from this coronavirus. People of advanced age are still more likely to suffer heavily from the virus, but recovery should still be the end goal for every patient. Below are some things the public should be aware of as so many are recovering from COVID-19.

What We Know About Recovering from COVID-19

A majority of people (greater than 80%) will experience mild symptoms or none at all. A full recovery is expected to take a few weeks, and patients may feel fatigued and achy, as well as restricted breathing. There is still very little information about potential recovery for patients with moderate illnesses. These patients will typically spend a few days in the hospital and likely require more breathing treatments than patients with no underlying conditions. Further, some patients may require IV fluids after experiencing bouts of diarrhea to avoid becoming dehydrated. Cause for further concern is the possibility that COVID patients could suffer significant heart damage. The timeline for recovery is unknown, some people may only require oxygen and IV fluids in order to leave the hospital in two days. Others may need a little more extensive care before going home to quarantine.

Serious Cases

The sickest patients suffer from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and often end up on mechanical ventilators. Recovering from COVID-19 is more likely for young people, but probably not those with a preexisting condition. Elderly patients and people who suffer from illnesses such as COPD are least likely to survive ARDS. Suffering ARDS from infection, rather than trauma, puts patients at a higher risk of becoming deathly ill. This is not specific to COVID, but that is the current cause in focus. These patients will likely require weeks of mechanical ventilation, also requiring some degree of medication due to discomfort from the ventilator. In order for someone with a severe case to come off ventilation they must:

  • be awake enough to protect their swallowing mechanism and airway;
  • have a low enough need for oxygen that can be supported with something else;
  • be able to clear enough carbon dioxide

When Can Patients be Discharged?

A discharge will be determined on a case by case basis. However, a patient does need to be able to feed his/herself and move around, or at least have someone at home that can care for them around the clock if necessary. If needed, patients can be released with supplemental oxygen if they still require respiratory assistance. The alternative to being discharged is receiving more specialized treatment or rehab. It is still impossible to say who will and will not recover, but further research once the spread of the virus truly dies down will be able to find patterns. Another obstacle in the recovery process is the number of cases: there are only so many doctors and so much equipment to go around, it is impossible to give each person all the care and attention they may require to properly recover from the virus. If the virus becomes a seasonal occurrence, there should be fewer cases after more research and hospitals will have the means to care for COVID patients.

Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus!

As always, stay in your homes as much as possible. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces in your home and cars regularly. If you are still going to the office each day, sanitize your hands regularly throughout your shift and keep your workspace clean. If you feel sick, do NOT go to work, for your sake as well as those around you. Maintain a safe distance from people in public at all times, but most importantly: maintain your health! Reach out to your doctor by phone before going into a clinic or hospital.

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