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All about COVID-19 aftereffects

24 February 2021


Key points: 

  • Some people who had COVID-19 have had sequelae even after discharge or even if they were not hospitalized.
  • Not only the lungs are at risk, but studies have also shown that this virus could leave sequels in the heart, brain, and muscles.
  • Experts are still not completely sure of all the damage that Sars-CoV-2 can cause, however, it is very important to follow up after being cured to know the organs’ state.

Some patients who recovered from COVID-19 experience sequelae after overcoming the disease. Their degree will depend on the severity the virus had in your body. Most people fully recover within a few weeks. But some continue to have symptoms after their initial recovery.

Older adults and people with significant medical conditions such as diabetes, overweight, cardiovascular disease, etc., are likely to have more persistent symptoms of COVID-19, but even young and healthy people can feel unwell for weeks or months after infection. Some symptoms are:

  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle pain and headache
  • Racing heart
  • Loss of smell and/or taste
  • Memory, concentration, or sleeping problems
  • Hair loss

Are only my lungs in danger with COVID-19?

Although COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that mainly affects the lungs, it can also damage other organs.

Heart: tests taken months after recovery have shown lasting damage to the heart, even in people with mild symptoms. This can increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.

Lungs: pneumonia associated with COVID-19 can cause long-lasting damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems.

Brain: sequelae can cause strokes, seizures, and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition that causes temporary paralysis. It can also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (this is not definitive since studies are still being performed to find out how much this virus is affecting the brain).

Some patients who have overcome the disease develop anxiety, depression, and/or phobias.
Psychiatric symptoms have been recorded during Sars-CoV-2 virus acute phase of infection, such as:

  • Confusion or delirium
  • Altered states of consciousness
  • Attention and concentration problems
  • Memory problems

Following up, once the disease is over, the results reveal the persistence of:

  • Traumatic memories
  • Fatigue
  • Memory difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Muscles: patients lose approximately 20% of their muscle mass, this generates long-lasting weakness, even most patients may have difficulty doing their daily activities for at least a year after having the disease.

What you should consider…

Not much is yet known about how Sars-CoV-2 will affect it in the long term, however, researchers recommend following people who have had COVID-19 to ensure their health and see how their organs are working after recovery.

The most serious and obvious physical sequelae occur in those who have been in intensive care, especially those who have been in intensive care for weeks or months.

The possible long-term consequences of this virus that took us by surprise more than a year ago, make it even more important to fight to reduce transmission by taking precautions such as wearing a mask correctly, avoiding crowds, washing hands constantly, and disinfecting everyday belongings.


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