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'Long COVID' symptoms baffle rural population of Karnataka

While several city residents come to hospital and are advised on post-COVID effects, people in rural regions are clueless and many end up with psychological issues, and also strokes and heart attacks.

Published: 11th October 2021 07:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th October 2021 07:27 AM   |  A+A-

Representational image of Coronavirus.

Representational Image. (File Photo)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Gowramma (69), a mother of six, would wake up at 5am and begin her day by cleaning the cowshed, cooking for the family and setting off to the field with her husband to work, but now, she cannot even gather the energy to get out of bed. It's been six months since she recovered from COVID.

"I don’t even feel like talking to anyone. I am tired of complaining about my weakness. It is very frustrating. I feel I may not live long," says Gowramma. 

Doctors say this lingering after-effect of the viral infection has affected hundreds of patients. While several city residents come to hospital and are advised on post-COVID effects, also called 'long COVID' symptoms, people in rural regions are clueless and many end up with psychological issues, and also strokes and heart attacks.

"We are seeing many such cases. In villages, people don’t relate these symptoms to COVID-19. They wonder what is wrong with them. Fatigue is the most common symptom, many develop diabetes, or if they are diabetic, it doesn’t come under control. There is also residual lung fibrosis. These need to be checked every month," said Dr Manjunath CN, Director, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases.

Ramappa Kalwad (49) from Hirekerur, who recovered from a three-month long severe COVID-19 infection, says tiredness and multiple joint pain has affected his livelihood. "The lockdown first took away my means of earning. I used to stand for seven hours and iron clothes. Now I can’t stand for two hours due to terrible joint pain in my legs. I went to Victoria Hospital and they told me it is common among those who have recovered from COVID," Ramappa told The New Indian Express.

Dr Chandrashekar, physician from Victoria Hospital, agrees that joint pain is a post-COVID symptom. A study on post-COVID effects is planned through the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS).

"Depression in some patients is also due to indirect effects like loss of job, monetary status or dear ones. In such cases, there is denial, anger, bargaining, rationalisation and then acceptance. Though it has nothing to do with physical issues, there are mental health issues related to COVID-19," he explained.

Meanwhile, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) which gets the maximum number of cases related to lung disorders due to COVID, is planning to launch a mobile post-COVID care centre in rural areas. Director C Nagaraj says, "Severe weight loss, fatigue, allergy, depression, drop in saturation levels, mood swings, exertion are some common complaints from recovered patients. We do Pulmonary Function Test, Lung Elasticity Test, chest X-ray, ECG, HB level check and rehabilitation counselling. Not all PHCs have this facility so we are planning a mobile care centre."

Sensitising rural populations and explaining that any viral infection can have lingering effects and is not permanent, is important, say doctors. Every PHC should do regular monthly checks for recovered patients to avoid mental health issues, besides stroke and other cardiac complications. 



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