Many COVID-19 survivors suffer from a new disability, lung damage

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In a recent study published in Critical Care, Monash University researchers found six months after recovering from COVID-19 critical illness, one in five people had died, and almost 40% of survivors had a new disability.

They looked at COVID-19 critical illness across Australia between March 6 and October 4, 2020, measuring mortality, new disability and return to work in people who had been admitted to intensive care units.

At six months, 43 of the 212 (20.3%) eligible patients had died, and 42 of the 108 (38.9%) surviving patients who responded to the study reported a new disability.

The team found 71.3% of surviving patients reported persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, loss of strength, fatigue, headaches and loss of sense of smell and taste after recovering from the critical illness.

Many reported new problems with mobility (33.9%), usual activities (43.2%) and pain (34.2%), as well as cognitive impairment (33.3%).

In addition, one fifth (20%) reporting anxiety (20.2%), depression (20%) and/or PTSD (18.4%). More than one in 10 survivors were unemployed due to poor health.

In another study published in Radiology, Sheffield and Oxford researchers found persistent damage to the lungs of COVID-19 patients.

They found abnormalities in the lungs of some COVID-19 patients more than three months—and in some cases, nine months—after leaving the hospital.

This damage was not detected by routine CT scans and clinical tests, and the patients would consequently normally be told their lungs are normal.

The team says many COVID-19 patients are still experiencing breathlessness several months after being discharged from the hospital, despite their CT scans indicating that their lungs are functioning normally.

The team has now begun testing patients who were not hospitalized with COVID-19 but who have been attending long COVID clinics.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about why do we keep getting new coronavirus variants, and when is it OK to take a rapid antigen test.

For more information about Covid, please see recent studies about drug that could help treat lung damage in COVID-19, and results showing that BMI number linked to risks of death and ICU stay in COVID-19.

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