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How long does it take to recover from covid-19?

19
May
2020
It is known that more than one million people worldwide have recovered from the new coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University in the USA.

But the road back to total health is not the same for everyone. The recovery time will depend on how sick the patient has been, since the
start.
Some people avoid the disease quickly, but for others, it can cause lasting problems. Age combined with other health problems increases the risk of becoming more seriously ill with covid-19.
The more invasive the treatment is for the patient, and the longer its execution, the greater the likelihood of recovery.

What if I only have mild symptoms?
Most infected people will develop only the main symptoms - cough or fever. In addition to these symptoms, there is also the possibility of body aches, fatigue, sore throat and headache. The cough is initially dry, but some people end up coughing up mucus containing lung cells killed by the virus. These symptoms are treated with bed rest, plenty of fluids and pain relief, such as paracetamol.

People with mild symptoms should make a quick and good recovery. The fever should stabilize in less than a week, although the cough may persist.
An analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Chinese data says that it takes an average of two weeks for a person to recover.

Now, what if I have more severe symptoms?
The disease can become much more serious for some. This tends to happen about seven to 10 days after the infection. The transformation can be sudden. Breathing becomes difficult and the lungs become inflamed. This is because, although the body's immune system is reacting, it exaggerates and the body suffers collateral damage. Some people will need to be in the hospital for oxygen therapy.

Doctor Sarah Jarvis commented to the BBC that "shortness of breath can take considerable time to improve and the body is overcoming scarring and inflammation". The health professional says it can take two to eight weeks to recover, like persistent tiredness.

What if I need intensive care?
The WHO estimates that one person in 20 will need intensive treatment, which may mean the need for a ventilator. It will take time to fully recover. Patients are transferred to a regular ward before going home.

Alison Pittard, director of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine in London, says it can take 12 to 18 months to return to normal after any period of intensive treatment. Spending too much time in a hospital bed leads to loss of muscle mass. Patients become weak and the muscles will take time to develop again. Some people will need physical therapy to walk again.
Because of what the body goes through in an intensive care unit, there is also the possibility of delirium and psychological disorders. "There seems to be an additional element to this disease - viral fatigue is definitely a huge factor," Paul Twose, an intensive care physiotherapist, tells the BBC.

There have been reports from China and Italy of weakness in the whole body, shortness of breath after any level of effort, persistent cough and irregular breathing. In addition to the extreme need to sleep a lot.

"We know that it takes patients a considerable period, potentially months, to recover." But it is difficult to generalize. Some people spend relatively short periods in intensive care, while others are ventilated for weeks.

Joana Soares
JN

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