Long Covid: A hidden pandemic

Health workers attend to a Covid-19 patient in the ICU at Mulago National Referral Hospital in June. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • People suffering from long-term effects of Covid-19 are prone to  complications such as  heart failure and diabetes, experts observe.

When Olivia Komugisha, a journalist, got Covid-19 in early June, she did not visit a hospital for treatment because her symptoms were mild.
 
“That was the time when hospitals around Kampala were full and the doctors were encouraging home-based care. I had flu, cough and fever, but I wasn’t really feeling so sick. However, the chest pain I experienced every night left me breathless. The only time I got relief was when I steamed,” she says. 
Since the country was hit by a second wave of Covid-19 in May 2021, social media has been awash with remedies to “prevent” the disease – and for those who contract it – to decongest the chest. One such remedy involves putting an assortment of herbs in a basin, pouring boiling water over them, and then, bending over the basin and inhaling the steam.
 
After two weeks, Komugisha tested negative for Covid-19. However, the effects of the disease still linger, especially in her ears. 
“My inner ears are itchy and painful. I constantly hear buzzing sounds. I still suffer stuffiness in my chest, and sometimes, breathlessness. A friend told me about some tablets I could take for my ears, but the medication worked for only a moment. Someone told me about a clinic I can visit at Mulago Hospital, but I haven’t been there because of the restrictions on transportation,” she says.
 
Komugisha still takes a blend of ginger, lemon and garlic for her chest pain. However, recently, a doctor she called advised her to go for a chest scan to assess the damage the disease could have done to her lungs. 
Komugisha is not alone. A growing number of Covid-19 survivors still have long-term health complications after they have recovered from the original infection. Some of these people did not really have severe Covid-19.

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