Post-COVID care and tests you need to conduct

Have you just recovered from Covid-19?

The good news is that recovery rates are rising, death rates are dipping and a majority of people are getting through the storm that is Covid without too many complications. However, it is too soon to let your guard down.

Many people are experiencing post covid symptoms and conditions, which can hinder the path of getting a complete cure. Covid recovery takes time, depending on whether your infection has been a mild or severe one. While you may have recovered from the bout of infection, the virus has been known to affect internal organs, and hamper the body’s immune response.

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This is also why it is recommended that you conduct certain post-covid tests which will provide an indication of how well your body has recovered. Thousands are still struggling with long term complications, even after many months.

Here are some tests you need to conduct post-Covid recovery:

IgG Antibody Test: Once you have fought off the coronavirus infection successfully, your body will produce antibodies that help in preventing future infections. These antibodies are specific to the particular virus your body has fought against. By taking the IgG Antibody test, you can determine if you have developed antibodies for the virus and see how your immune system has reacted to it.

Complete Blood Count (CBC): You should take a complete blood test to determine how your body has responded to the covid infection. CBC tests assess different kinds of cells in your body, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelet count, etc. While red blood cells carry oxygen to your body, white blood cells protect you against illness and disease. The CBC test also checks your blood for any medication side effects.

Vitamin D Test: Studies have found that 80 per cent of covid 19 patients are Vitamin D deficient. The coronavirus infection is also known to reduce Vitamin D levels in the body. Hence, a test will help determine if you are deficient. In case you are, you can start on vitamin D supplements to help speed up recovery.

Chest scan: The coronavirus attacks the lungs - often mildly, but sometimes aggressively, as well. You will need to conduct a High-resolution CT scan (HRCT), which produced detailed images of your lungs, to determine if and how much it has affected your lungs. The scan can also rule out any chances of black fungus infection you may have got post covid recovery. Keep a lookout for symptoms such as headache, redness in the eyes, bloody vomit and cough.

Cardiac screening: Studies reveal that COVID infection can cause inflammation in the body. This can lead to the weakening of the heart muscles and, in some cases, complications such as myocarditis, which affects the heart muscles and the heart’s electrical system, reducing its ability to pump and causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). COVID-19 can also further aggravate any existing cardiac issues. This is why it is important to get proper imaging scans and heart functioning tests conducted.

Neuro function tests: People recovering from Covid 19 have complained of neurological and psychological debilities which appear weeks or months after recovery. Hence, healthcare experts recommend getting neuro function tests conducted a few weeks after recovery. You will also need to get any lingering symptoms such as nausea, brain fog, fatigue or anxiety checked to ensure timely treatment.

Glucose and cholesterol test: With Covid 19 playing havoc on your body, you need to keep a track of your blood glucose and blood pressure levels. This is even more important for people with comorbidities such as type- or type-2 diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Liver function test: COVID-19 is known to affect internal organs, including the liver. A liver function test shows the functioning of the liver to produce albumin, a protein made by the liver, and break blood waste products like bilirubin. Lower albumin and bilirubin levels could be an indication of liver disease, though this may not be the case always.

Post recovery tips to follow

The road to recovery may be long and tiring, but if you take care of yourself, you can get by. Here are some tips to follow to ensure full and proper recovery:

  • Follow up with your doctor a week to 10 days after recovery/discharge

  • Take rest and ensure 8 hours of sleep. Your body's immune system goes into an overdrive trying to fight the coronavirus. This can be exhausting and by taking adequate rest, you can help your body recover faster.

  • Practise breathing exercises such as pranayama to improve respiratory function. Meditation can help you relieve stress and improve your mental health.

  • Continue COVID- appropriate behaviour such as masking, hand wash, maintaining social distance.

  • Eat well and consume a nutritious diet with plenty of proteins. These important micronutrients help in rebuilding and recharging the body. Ensure that carbohydrates make up 25 per cent of your meal, along with a variety of vegetables and fruits. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. You can also add the readily available anti-inflammatory ingredients available in the kitchen, such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, honey, cinnamon and mint. Do avoid cooking elaborate meals and stick to simple, yet nutritious, dishes such as khichdi, curd rice, eggs.

  • Monitor for warning signs including fever, confusion, body weakness, chest pain, breathlessness or fever, among others.

  • Go slow on physical exercise and avoid doing anything that is strenuous. You can start with simple walking for five-ten minutes daily, and increase the duration gradually. If you are suffering from comorbidities, wait for at least 3-4 weeks before you start exercising.

  • Keep your brain cells active by playing games such as sudoku, jigsaw puzzles and crosswords. Challenge your brain with some memory games.

  • Go easy on the housework - divide your responsibilities and take help as much as possible.

  • Go slow at work and avoid stress.

  • Follow a healthy lifestyle - stay away from alcohol and tobacco.

  • Speak to a mental health expert/counsellor in case you are feeling depressed, excessively anxious or have other mental health concerns.

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