Recovering from COVID-19 – What to Expect?

Female doctor with mask on holding a globeNow that the President of the United States has been infected with the COVID-19 virus, people are more than ever taking a closer look at what would happen to them should they get infected. Of course, the ‘cocktail’ that is being used for the president is most likely not what the average citizen would receive, so we will be concentrating on the commercial recommendations from the doctors and scientists for the general public.

If you look at the numbers, as of September 24, 2020, more than 23 million people have recovered from COVID-19. But the road to recovery is not always the same. Since COVID-19 affects people differently, every coronavirus patient recuperates at a different pace. Moreover, their recovery rate depends on the severity of their symptoms and a prior history of their medical conditions.  

In this post, we will be focusing on people that are considered healthy (those that are not immune-compromised, have existing illnesses or are seniors). Discussing recovery for people in the compromised category demands a completely different article of which we will post soon. For people in the healthy category, you will find information about what to expect if you recovering from the COVID-19 and some of the essential things that you need to know once you have recuperated from the infection. 

Note: Even if you are healthy, you may still bear the effects of those that are compromised. There are no guarantees when it comes to COVID-19. At least not yet! Additionally, the information provided here is for general information only from reliable sources, but is not based upon any scientific data. For more information on the information provided on this website, please see our disclaimer. 

Recovering from COVID-19: What to Expect?

a-male-patient-smiles-while-holding-the-hand-of-a-friendPerhaps, the most critical factor that affects the recovery process is the severity of its symptoms.

How quickly and how well you recover depends on whether your case is mild, moderate or severe.

Let’s look at each of the three scenarios and find out how the recovery looks. 

In Case of Mild Symptoms 

According to statistics, 80% of the people who get infected by COVID-19 experience mild symptoms. Moreover, a certain percentage of patients are asymptomatic, which means that they do not experience any symptoms. However, this does not mean that they are entirely healthy.

In mild infections for healthy people, the average recovery time can take up between seven and ten days, maybe more, depending upon how your body reacts to recovering. In general, you can expect the recovery to be similar to other viral infections, such as the common flu.

And while the symptoms may completely subside within two weeks, patients may continue to experience weakness and shortness of breath (especially after performing the strenuous activity) for another few weeks. However, these after-effects can improve on their own. Therefore, a healthy diet, mild exercise and a lot of rest are generally recommended for almost every patient infected by COVID-19.

In case of Moderate Symptoms 

In case of moderate symptoms, you can expect the recovery process to be longer compared to those with milder symptoms. Since moderate symptoms may warrant ER visits and possible hospitalization, you should keep in mind that these conditions may persist for a period. While the average recovery period is two weeks and the fever usually subsides within that time, you still may have a cough, fatigue and shortness of breath which could continue for several more weeks.

An infected person with moderate symptoms can take up to six weeks to completely recover.

In Case of Severe Symptoms 

Severe symptoms of COVID-19 mean that the infection has affected the lungs which have led to the development of pneumonia or an autoimmune response to tackle the virus that has damaged the lung tissue, a condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Therefore, the patient would require hospitalization and intensive care with the possibility of a ventilator as well. 

In that case, the recovery process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or longer. And if you spend time on a ventilator, you can expect a lot more time when it comes to recovery. Once off the ventilator, you will need a lot of time to regain your strength. Moreover, a lot more time will be required for the pulmonary function to return to normal.

An important thing to remember is that a person with severe symptoms may continue to be contagious for a while. While the average recommended period for isolation is two weeks, this does not apply to people with severe symptoms. Therefore, it is highly recommended that even if you have recovered from severe symptoms, you should continue to wear a face mask and repeatedly wash your hands using soap and water. This will protect those around you and keep you safe as you recover from this viral infection.

Recovering from COVID-19 with a Prior History of Medical Conditions

According to statistics, people with a prior history of medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac problems, experienced more severe symptoms than those who do not have any such medical condition. And since such people experience more severe symptoms, it is only natural to expect a longer recovery time. The risk factors highlighted below can significantly lengthen your recovery period. 

  • Age 60 and more 
  • A history of disturbed lipids (such as high cholesterol and triglycerides) and cardiac problems,
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  •  Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Cancer or
  • Any other person in an immunocompromised state (whether due to recovery from an infection or cancer, organ transplant or any other medical condition that can weaken your immune system) 

Long-term Impact of COVID-19

So far, there is limited information on the long-term impact of COVID-19. Since the infection affects the lungs, it is expected that patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may develop lung and heart diseases in the future. Moreover, some research in preliminary stages indicates that the infection may have an impact on the brain as well. However, a lot of research is required, and in the next five years, the medical practitioners will be in a better position to figure out the long-term impact of COVID-19. One thing is for sure that even patients with mild symptoms complain of fatigue, which is considered a long-term impact of the infection.

Can I Get Infected Again?

The answer is possible. Research indicates that it is possible to get infected with COVID-19 for a second time months after recovering from the infection. However, according to statistics, those who are infected again experience milder symptoms. This is because the immune system is better equipped to deal with the virus when it attacks the body for the second time.

How Can You Help Others When You Have Recovered? 

In most cases, people infected with COVID-19 have a smooth recovery. And with a recovery rate of 99%, there is a good chance that you will recover without any significant problems. Since there is no vaccine yet, you can help others once you have recovered. Health professionals are using a blood-transfusion therapy, called convalescent plasma therapy, to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The plasma is drawn from the blood of recovered patients  and transfused into critically ill COVID-19 patients.  Since the plasma is rich in antibodies, it can be used to help another person fight COVID-19. While there is no guarantee that the plasma therapy will always work, it is one possible way to save lives when you have recovered from the disease. 

Bottom Line 

When fighting against COVID-19, always remember that every patient has a unique recovery process. But when you keep your spirits high, the road to recovery may become a lot easier and better. And once you have recovered, you have the power to treat others, so make sure you get well soon and help others fight COVID-19 more effectively.