Ask Dr. Nandi: Some COVID-19 patients aren't getting better, major medical centers are trying to figure out how to help

Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 23:06:57-04

(WXYZ) — While many who get sick with COVID-19 recover, there are some people who aren’t getting better. Medical experts say these patients can struggle with serious long-term effects, even though they had a milder form of the virus.

Unfortunately, there are some people who are considered to be “mildly symptomatic”, yet their symptoms continue to linger weeks, even months after they were diagnosed. And it’s affecting their quality of life.

Now as to what might be going on, well we don’t really know yet. Having said that, there are some potential reasons.

It’s possible that they have a complication of the virus or a secondary infection. It’s also possible that the virus is still in the body somewhere and it’s just not detectable with current testing.

There’s also something called “post-viral inflammatory syndrome”. That’s when the body’s immune system continues to stay “gassed up” despite the fact that the virus is gone. Plus, it’s possible that inflammation might have damaged the autonomic nervous system. Which could then affect heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and sleep.

There are a wide range of symptoms that folks can struggle with, for example:

  • extreme fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • intermittent fevers
  • persistent aches and pains
  • trouble concentrating
  • headaches
  • chest pains and heart palpitations

So you can imagine how debilitating these symptoms could be. And many of these folks are wondering if they’ll ever get better. Or if they’re now dealing with a chronic disease.

Since these people were not sick enough to be hospitalized, there really is no approved drug or treatment for them right now.

Here’s what I do, I tell my patients who are not feeling well to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, and if they have a fever, to take fever-reducing medicine.

I also stress how important it is to eat right because healthy foods feed the immune system.

Now, it may feel like the virus has been around forever. But it hasn’t which means that we’re still learning what recovery for COVID-19 looks like.

The good news is that major medical facilities are now tracking these patients to get a better understanding of their illness. And I expect that research will show not only why these symptoms persist, but ways we can help treat these patients as well.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.