As we reach what seems to be the end of the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long haul of dealing with persisting symptoms — now being defined as ‘long Covid’ by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will run a 15-day series ‘Decoding Long Covid‘ where doctors with different specialisations will address concerns, recommend ways to deal with them, and suggest when to seek help.
In today’s column, Dr Sweta Budyal, senior consultant endocrinologist at Fortis Hospital Mulund in Mumbai, explains why recovering patients may experience a new onset of diabetes, viral thyroiditis and a flare-up of autoimmune diseases.
In an interview with News18, Dr Budyal said, “By now, it is common knowledge that diabetes increases the risk of Covid-19. But, in terms of long Covid, what we have been seeing is that it becomes considerably difficult to manage pre-existing diabetes in patients, during the recovery phase.”
“More importantly, patients who have never had diabetes, or do not have the risk factors associated with the disease, also turn diabetic post-Covid. So, Covid induces diabetes in some cases, and it can happen long after the use of steroids have stopped,” she added.
Apart from diabetes, one of the symptoms of Covid patients is sick euthyroid, which is abnormalities in the development of thyroid hormones during any acute illness. “It has been observed that during the recovery phase, too, several thyroid-related issues crop up. Some patients experience subacute thyroiditis or viral thyroiditis, which are characterised by more pronounced symptoms like fever, throat or neck pain. Such conditions can last from anywhere between eight to twelve weeks and may even require supportive treatment,” said the doctor.
Thirdly, many patients also face autoimmune issues during the recovery phase. “We have seen a trend in the increase of type 1 diabetes following covid in children. I have also come across a rare case of insulin autoimmune hypoglycemia syndrome,” said Budyal. The doctor said that while there are also reports that the virus has been extracted from testicles and other endocrine organs, in those cases, longer implications post-recovery is yet to be studied.
As far as metabolism is concerned, most covid patients generally tend to lose weight, which they regain after the infection. “Covid causes poor health which may also require a step down in the Blood Pressure medication doses in some cases,” she explained.
The doctor said every physical change needs to be monitored closely while dealing with long Covid, and there is a need to stay in touch with a physician who will help you navigate this phase.