18th May 2020

How does the severity of symptoms affect recovery time?

18th May 2020

Curated by Endre Szvetnik

It depends on if you had mild or more severe symptoms. The lungs of people with milder symptoms (who were not put on ventilators) start recovering after two weeks according to a Chinese study of 21 patients.

For more severe cases, the recovery can last months. UK and US studies suggest that 45-49% of hospitalised patients recover, but among them, there is a significant group with underlying medical conditions (chronic cardiac disease, diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease) which will need extra attention during rehabilitation. Intensive care unit (ICU) patients will be suffering from muscle loss, lung and kidney damage. A non-Covid related paper in the British Medical Journal noted a 2%-4% muscle mass loss per day in an ICU and muscle weakness lasting for 2-6 months after leaving hospital. A Chinese paper states 42% of Covid-19 survivors emerging from hospitals had sepsis, 36% had respiratory failure, 12% had heart failure and 7% had blood clots. Delirium, an acute brain dysfunction occurring in 80% of the sickest ICU patients meant longer hospital stays and a lower proportion of such patients surviving beyond 6-months according to a recent paper.

Can we predict who is likely to have more severe symptoms? Research highlights people with chronic cardiac disease, diabetes, CPOD, chronic kidney disease, asthma and dementia patients among at-risk groups. A recent British study has suggested genetic factors could be responsible for half of the variation of key symptoms. Researchers picked the data of 2600 pairs of non-identical and identical twins from a Covid-19 app. Identical twins share 100% of their genes and the study found their Covid-19 symptoms - such as fever, diarrhoea, delirium and the loss of taste and smell - were matching more than for non-identical twins. This proved there can be genetic factors behind symptom severity.

Here is the current state of science on a Sparrho pinboard. NB: The pinboard contains research papers that have not been peer-reviewed yet, meaning that they have not gone through the standard scientific validation process yet.

Curated by

Endre Szvetnik

Endre Szvetnik is Senior Editor at Sparrho. Endre works with Sparrho Heroes to curate, translate and disseminate scientific research to the wider public.

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