- YOMIURI EDITORIAL
Young people with COVID-19 need to be careful of aftereffects
16:05 JST, May 23, 2021] p>Even after recovering from infection with the novel coronavirus, some people suffer from the aftereffects for a long time. This can have serious impacts on their lives after returning to work or school. It is necessary to improve treatment and support systems.
The aftereffects from COVID-19 vary, including fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, problems with smell and taste, and hair loss. In a follow-up survey of patients admitted to the National Center for Global Health and Medicine for novel coronavirus infection, half of them reported some symptoms after two months and 30% after four months.
Similar cases have been reported from all over the world, but the exact causes are not yet known. When the Tokyo metropolitan government started a telephone consultation service at the end of March, it received more than 200 consultations in a month. This shows many people are troubled by aftereffects.
About 30% of those who sought consultations were young people in their 20s and 30s. In other countries, it has been reported that more than 90% of the people who have developed aftereffects had mild symptoms at the time of infection. Some cases reportedly were asymptomatic, but later developed aftereffects.
Young people were previously thought to have mild symptoms of infection and there were cases where prevention measures were insufficient. Above all, each person has to take thorough measures to prevent infection, such as avoiding eating and drinking with many people and conversing without wearing a mask.
It is important that people suffering from the aftereffects of the disease do not have to suffer alone. Some university hospitals have opened specialized outpatient sections, and some local governments have set up consultation centers to introduce medical institutions.
The central and local governments have to establish systems that allow people to continue receiving support even after their treatment and recuperation for the infection is over. Cooperation among various medical departments such as internal medicine, otolaryngology and dermatology is essential to deal with a wide range of symptoms.
The aftereffects of the disease vary according to the person, with some people recovering spontaneously with the passage of time and others feeling lingering effects. Not knowing how long the symptoms will last also makes patients feel uneasy.
There have been cases in which patients’ condition improved with medication and rehabilitation to alleviate the symptoms. Such information needs to be shared with the medical community to establish effective treatment guidelines.
In the United States and Europe where many people have been infected with the virus, there have been reports of memory impairment and loss of concentration, which can interfere with daily life. Reportedly in some cases the infection has caused a decline in the functioning of the lungs, heart and other organs, which can become fatal. The actual situations should be investigated in Japan to come up with countermeasures.
The aftereffects of the disease have not yet been fully recognized by society. Even after recovering from the infection, some people have not been able to return to good health and have been forced to take a leave of absence or resign from their jobs. There have also been cases of people who felt isolated at school because others thought they were being lazy or idle.
It is also important for those around such people to deepen their understanding of the aftereffects of the disease and offer a helping hand.
— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 23, 2021.
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