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Recovered COVID-19 patients can suffer from other issues left behind by virus

COVID-19 can lead to some patients developing severe lung damage, kidney failure and liver damage.
Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 4:48 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - COVID-19 can leave prolonged effects on the body even when someone is no longer infectious, meaning they no longer have Covid and are moved off of the Covid unit.

One of those being “COVID fog,” where recovered patients suffer from headaches, dizziness, loss of taste or smell and other neurological concerns.

“Covid has, it has extensive effects on the body,” Dr. Kiersten Kennedy, UAB Chief of Hospital Medicine, said.

Dr. Kennedy said they have seen patients who have develop significant lung damage requiring high amounts of oxygen that can, at times, take weeks to improve before becoming stable enough to go home.

Kidney failure and liver damage can also develop post COVID.

“Even though the patient is no longer infectious, the side effects from having had the infection, they’re still there,” Dr. Kennedy said. “Often times it takes days to weeks after they are no longer infectious to continue to treat their kidneys or treat their liver or treat whatever super imposed infections, they might of developed as a result of having covid.”

These patients, referred to as COVID convalesced patients, are no longer infectious with COVID-19, but have post virus effects that requires round the clock care.

Dr. Kennedy said this is contributing to the significant strain on the health system.

“It means fewer patients in the COVID unit, but it’s not fewer patients in the hospital as a whole,” Dr. Kennedy said. “Which is why it is important for us to share those total numbers of both active covid infection and covid convalesced patients.”

The battle against COVID in Alabama, now lasting 10 months, is taking an emotional toll on frontline workers, like Dr. Kennedy.

“I don’t know if there is a way to truly describe how exhausting it is,” Dr. Kennedy said. “I mean we literally are seeing the same presentation over and over again which after a while it becomes very disheartening because we’re trying to explain how to avoid this.”

She said COVID patients that require hospitalization suffer from significant fevers, low oxygen levels, severe chills and have difficulty doing very minor tasks such as walking to a nearby room in their home.

“It’s really hard to watch and you care for these patients, I mean, they’re scared,” Dr. Kennedy said. “There’s nothing like feeling like you cannot breathe and not having something that you can take to make that better.”

Alabama has had over 38,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

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