COVID-19 Recovery: Easy steps to re-build immunity at home

To understand the effects of COVID-19 better, and to find out ways to rebuild our immunity at home, the team of Mumbai Live got in touch with Dr Saumya Kine.

COVID-19 Recovery: Easy steps to re-build immunity at home

The current wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new strains of the coronavirus has raised some rather serious healthcare concerns amongst all. Moreover, if the level of infection is moderate to serious, the chances of damage done to the lungs by the coronavirus increases.

To understand the effects of COVID-19 better, and to find out ways to rebuild our immunity at home, the team of Mumbai Live got in touch with Dr Saumya Kine, who is currently a physiotherapy intern at MAEER’S Physiotherapy College, Talegaon Dabhade. MIMER Medical is a Pune-based COVID-19 dedicated hospital where Kine has been closely observing patients suffering from COVID-19.

  • How does COVID-19 impact the body? Do we face muscle loss after recovering from the illness?

COVID-19 affects the human body in multiple ways. Though the primary route of entry for the virus is the respiratory system, once inside, the virus multiplies itself and affects most of our systems including the cardiovascular as well as the central nervous system. They say after lungs, kidneys, heart, and brain are the next ones in order. As far as muscle loss is considered, the answer is yes. Patients affected with COVID-19 are usually bedridden for quite a prolonged period. Once hospitalized, patients are minimum bedridden for at least a period of 3 weeks, longer if in ICU or on ventilators. Immobilization combined with consistent physical weakness, reduced nutritional intake, use of steroids for the treatment tend to cause muscle weakness in patients affected with COVID. But if taken due care in time, it is completely possible to reverse the muscle wasting or even slow down the rate at which it happens.

  • What are some of the exercises we could do every day that could increase our stamina after recovering from COVID-19?

Post-COVID, the capacity of the lungs to breathe normally is highly reduced. The infection causes fibrosis and damage to the lungs making it difficult to breathe. Apart from this, patients sometimes need supplemental oxygen during hospitalization to maintain the oxygen saturation within normal limits. If this is kept for a longer period of time, the body becomes used to it and makes fewer efforts on its own to breathe. Hence it is advisable to start slow and steady. As simple as it may seem, just walking for a fixed amount of time, daily, can help improve stamina. Or even climbing and descending stairs. If you want to start a workout regimen, making sure to warm up and cool down is essential. Jogging, stepping up and down, sit-ups, crunches, jumping jacks, cycling, squats are some of the simple exercises you can do every day that would help with your stamina and endurance.

  • Would you prescribe certain kinds of food that could help the body replenish itself?

Anything nutritious and rich in protein and carbohydrates is advisable. Vitamins and minerals are equally important. But most of all, immunity boosters.

  • Is it important to get your heart checked after recovery?

Yes. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus tends to affect the heart. The most common affection seen is inflammation and damage of the arteries, clot formation that later restricts blood flow to the heart and other organs. Moreover, the rate of infection is higher if the person has other co-morbidities like high blood pressure or a previous incident of a heart attack. The most common symptoms reported by post-COVID patients with heart affection are chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath. It is advisable to visit your doctor and get relevant radiological studies done in case you are having problems during your recovery post COVID.

  • What other measures would you recommend for recovering patients?

Post-COVID recovery is a very slow, yet important phase. Regular exercises, not only in terms of improving breathing, but also overall fitness and health. Cardiovascular and respiratory physiotherapy has a particularly important role in post COVID rehabilitation. The physiotherapist will not only help the patient recover from the residual symptoms of COVID-19 but also improve the quality of life. Various breathing exercises to improve the intake of oxygen and regain control over breathing, positioning to improve ventilation and clear chest secretions, if any, forms a part of post COVID chest physiotherapy regime. Apart from the respiratory part, the musculoskeletal system also undergoes deconditioning and muscle wasting. General bed mobility, strengthening exercises, gradually increasing in frequency and intensity are also to be considered. COVID-19 does not only affect the person physically but also mentally and emotionally. Hence it is important to heal in all aspects. Take up a new hobby or go back to an old one. Socialize.

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