Decode Long COVID

As we reach what appears to be the end of the second deadly wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long period of treatment for persistent symptoms – now defined as ‘long Covid’ by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will air a 15-day ‘Decoding Long Covid’ series where doctors of different specializations will address concerns, recommend ways to treat them, and suggest when to seek help.

In today’s column, Dr KK Handa, President of ENT and Head and Neck Surgery at Medanta Hospital, explains how long Covid impacts hearing abilities and causes infection of respiratory tracts.

Dr Handa explained that some of the more common long symptoms of Covid are a sore throat and a stuffy or runny nose. Some patients also complain of the loss of smell. In a few cases, upper respiratory tract infection and enlarged tonsils have also been observed. There are few cases where patients have experienced hearing loss and other hearing problems like ringing in the ears.

“The most dangerous, however, is a headache. You have to be careful because a headache may simply be a symptom of a long covid, or it may indicate a deeper problem, such as a black fungus,” said doctor.

After recovery, the most serious problem in Covid-19 patients is mucormycosis or black fungus. “It becomes a small epidemic within a pandemic. Before the coronavirus arrived, I barely saw a case of black fungus in a month. However, in the first wave, I started to see a case by week, and now there are 20 to 25 cases per day, ”said Dr Handa.

The reason we are seeing this is obviously uncontrolled diabetes, higher doses, and longer steroid use, something in the pathogenicity of the fungus. “This fungus invades the blood vessels and causes gangrene of the distal parts. It starts from the lower sinuses then goes to the brain”, specifies the doctor.

“The treatment has to be very aggressive and immediate, and we use an antifungal during this time. Early detection is very crucial because the sinuses can be cleaned endoscopically, and if the patient is lucky there is no need to remove them. But, if it affects the eyes and the vision is gone, then it involves the removal of the eyes so that they do not spread to the brain. Mortality in such cases is 80%, “a- he concluded.

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