To best support you in your recovery after COVID-19, here are the 10 most important things you need to know:
1. How long does COVID-19 last?
Generally, people are considered to be infectious from 48 hours before symptoms start. In a high-risk setting, they may be considered infectious from 72 hours before symptoms start. Most people should return a negative rapid antigen test or PCR test by day 7. However, you can still be infectious after 7 days.
2. When will I recover after COVID-19?
People at higher risk of serious illness may take weeks to recover. If a person develops long-term health problems caused by COVID-19, symptoms most commonly continue for 2 to 8 weeks after infection. In some cases, symptoms can last 6-12 months. Damage
s caused by COVID-19 can also be permanent if not managed properly. Professional care and appropriate rehabilitation can improve the outcome of your recovery.
3. How to recover by yourself if you only have mild symptoms?
A key way to speed up the recovery process is to move more, little by little. Most people with COVID-19 move much less, because they feel sick and tired. Moving and exercising less will result in reduced muscle function and deconditioning.
This can make your daily activities, such as walking, managing stairs or getting up from a chair more challenging. That’s why it is important to start and progress your exercises little by little.
An appropriately prescribed rehabilitation program ensures your muscle and lung function do not deteriorate further and that you recover more quickly. Follow the advice of your physiotherapist.
4. Avoid overdoing it
Enough rest is as important as moving little by little. One analogy to explain this is to use the example of a car. For instance, a car that requires some repair can still be driven for a long time without stopping and taking a break. However, you shouldn’t do that because the engine might overheat and force you to stop for longer. In the end, you will reach your destination later than if you had made enough planned stops or have the repair work carried out first. It’s the same with progressing exercises. It is important that you listen carefully to your body and your physiotherapist so that you can avoid doing too much too quickly. You can determine this by following the Shortness of Breath scales.
5. Use self-managed Shortness of Breath scale
Shortness of breath: the scale ranges from 0 (not short of breath at all) to 10 (no breath at all). Your physiotherapist can tell you how short of breath you should feel during and after the exercise. This is often between 4 (fairly strong shortness of breath) and 6 (between strong and very strong shortness of breath). However, these numbers can vary depending on your age, normal fitness and whether you have other medical conditions. In general, if your score is 7 or more (very strong shortness of breath) you may have progressed too quickly, which can be harmful to a smooth and speedy recovery.
6. Monitor your heart rate and temperature
It is important that you monitor some of your body’s vital signs e.g., temperature and heart rate. When moving and exercising, your temperature and heart rate go up and you may sweat and breathe faster. This is normal, but you may sweat more and breath even faster after COVID-19. It is important that you seek professional advice to know whether it is normal or whether you are overusing your body. If you do not have access to this, our consultants can help. Our professional team also have a range of medical devices to monitor your oxygen level, blood pressure etc., to ensure the safety of your recovery. We may also provide you with complimentary rehabilitation equipment
s if they are deemed to be beneficial for your recovery.
7 If you still have a fever or phlegm with colour, check with your doctor or physiotherapist before starting rehabilitation.
Also, it is important that you obtain professional guidance on rehabilitation if you
– are over 65 years old
– are overweight or obese
– are diabetic
– have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
– have a history of smoking
– have pre-existing heart or lung conditions
– have any other underlying medical conditions
– take regularly prescribed medications
8. Stop exercises and seek professional advice if you experience any of the followings:
- excessive tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- excessive sweat
- nausea or a stomach ache
- chest pain or pain in your arm
9. Ensure you regularly change positions to avoid secondary complications
You may still need a lot of rest, but even when resting, try to change your position regularly. You may sleep more than normal, however, make sure you do some gentle exercises for your neck and back so that these parts of the body are not stiff.
Occasionally move to sitting or standing, if you can, and move briefly in between. Sitting or standing upright is better than just lying for both your spine health and lung function. It is also easier to breathe when you are upright. Walking is even better. However, it is not recommended that you get into running or high-level exercises too quickly. It is essential to get your lung and physical capacity assessed via our rehabilitation consultations before returning to sporting activities.
10 Physical rehabilitation can help your mental health
It is common that you may feel short of breath or fatigued easily when exercising, and this can make you feel uneasy. It is possible that these feelings can make you feel insecure or anxious when you are unable to complete all your activities of daily living as normal. Remember that building up activities and doing exercises can be very rewarding and helpful in maintaining your mental health as well.
When is it important to seek help from a professional rehabilitation service?
– have a fever for more than 3 days
– have a recurring fever
– still experience symptoms after 7 days
– have lost your appetite
– find it difficult to eat due to shortness of breath, nausea or loss of smell and taste
– have (had) diarrhea or nausea for more than 3 days
– have experienced a prolonged period of anxiety or depression