Online survey of 151 medical professionals who fell ill in March finds 68 still unable to work
There is evidence that the official NHS description of the COVID-19 virus' symptoms - cough, fever, loss of taste/smell - is too narrow, The Guardian has reported.
Aside from the 68 (out of 151) medical professionals still unable to work since contracting COVID-19 in March, an online survey also found that 26 of those who fell ill just under three months ago and went back to work had to stop because their symptoms returned.
A report from the World Health Organisation published in February found that patients with a "severe or critical" case of COVID-19 can expect a median recovery time of three to six weeks.
According to a study by John Hopkins University, over two million people globally have recovered from coronavirus so far. However, the journey back to full health can often vary.
Medical experts have suggested that as the immune system continues to fight the virus long after it has gone, it can also take time for lungs to heal, for example.
While some people shrug off the illness quickly, others, including those who are admitted to hospital and required to use an oxygen mask, may take longer to recover.
Patients who spend weeks in intensive care, put on ventilators, report problems with muscle weakness two months after leaving hospital, according to non-COVID-specific research published by the British Medical Journal. In some cases, problems - such as a lack of mobility - can persist for at least six months.
Dr James Gill, GP and clinical lecturer at Warwick Medical School, recently told the Daily Telegraph that it is currently thought that about 50% of COVID patients will require no further care after being discharged, 45% will need some low-level medical or social care, whilst 5% will need rehabilitation.
Fiona McGill, occupational health manager, at BHSF, highlighted some of the devices COVID-19 patients might be given once they are discharged from hospital.
"Some patients may have been given a pulse oximeter upon discharge from hospital. This device monitors heart rate and oxygen levels during activities and exercises," she said.
McGill added that people in recovery should check their heart rate and oxygen levels before, during, and after exercise. Normal oxygen saturation is between 96 and 100%. "It shouldn't go below 88% during exercise," she added. "If levels do fall under 88%, I would strongly advise people to consult a doctor immediately."
"People may have also received a spirometer. Spirometers are designed to help people take long, slow and deep breaths. It should be used for 15 minutes throughout the day, which can be broken into three sessions. Spirometers help strengthen breathing muscles and open up airspace in the lungs."
McGill also warned of the mental health impact for those discharged from hospital.
She said: "We're living in a situation that's touched everyone. Some patients may be struggling with how to mentally process everything their body has been put through.
"They may even develop signs and symptoms of an acute stress reaction, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms can include flashbacks, persistent negative emotions or trouble with concentration.
"However, anyone can improve their mental health in the age of COVID-19, whether they have had an infection or not. People could engage in regular communication for social purposes with family and friends or meditate before bedtime.
"It could also mean people reaching out to mental health professionals. If you are experiencing symptoms of stress or PTSD, the sooner you can get help, the better the outcome."
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