Coronavirus and Shortness of Breath: 5 Ways to Deal with It

The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect billions of people. But those who have recovered successfully, about 30% of people, developed shortness of breath, and some have breathing problems even after recovery. In this article, we will tell you what to do to get rid of post-coronavirus dyspnea as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

This virus is most often transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person by sneezing and coughing. But sometimes, you can get infected by a patient who does not seem to have a cold at all. The disease develops within 4-14 days after infection, and with a mild degree, resembles a cold or flu.

The body temperature does not exceed 38.5 ° C; a person coughs, complains of headache, and muscle pain. With an average degree of the disease, the temperature rises above 38.5 ° C, and with physical exertion (for example, when screaming), shortness of breath appears.

Why Shortness of Breath Appears with Coronavirus

Shortness of breath is an unpleasant sensation associated with a lack of air when it becomes difficult for a person to breathe. On average, shortness of breath develops 5-8 days after the first symptoms of the disease appear.

With a severe course of coronavirus infection, a feeling of lack of air occurs even at rest when a person is motionless. And with an extremely severe degree, a person needs additional respiratory support. It is only possible in the hospital with a mechanical ventilation device (IVL).

How Long Can Shortness Of Breath Persist

Many patients recover completely within two weeks. However, in people with more severe forms of the disease, even after recovery, symptoms persist:

  • Rapid fatigability – in 15–87% of those who have recovered
  • Shortness of breath – in 10–71%
  • Pain and tightness in the chest – 12–44%
  • Cough – 17-26%

Some recovered people complain of poor appetite, joint pain, and neurological symptoms. These include lack of smell, depression, headaches, memory, and concentration impairment. For patients who have been seriously ill, recovery may take two to three months. But sometimes, the shortness of breath lasts longer.

Types of Shortness of Breath

To understand how to cope with shortness of breath, it is important to observe exactly when it occurs – at rest or during motion. The method of treatment will depend on this.

1. Shortness of Breath at Rest

If a person experiences shortness of breath, even if they do not move, it is likely that a fairly large percentage of the lung tissue is damaged. It is unlikely that the patient will be able to recover on his own.

In such a case, a person will depend on an additional oxygen supply for a long time. Such people will have to recover in the conditions of a rehabilitation center or hospital.

2.  Shortness of Breath at Motion

If a person feels short of breath only when moving, then it does not indicate a serious problem. According to Pulmonologists, the body in such a case is able to provide sufficient oxygen saturation at rest, but it does not have enough oxygen during physical exertion. In this situation, it is important to begin rehabilitation within 30 days of recovering from COVID-19.

How to Cope with Shortness of Breath

Like alcohol rehabilitation programs, several such programs are available in the hospitals to facilitate patients with specific problems. These include general physical rehabilitation, pulmonary, cardiac rehabilitation, and occupational therapy.

These are a special area of ​​medicine that deals with the restoration of lost motor skills. Some patients may benefit from massage and physiotherapy treatments. Thus, choose a suitable program.

1. Start Rehabilitation As Early As Possible

There is no need to wait for a negative coronavirus test result. The sooner a person engages in self-healing, the faster he will be able to defeat unpleasant symptoms and shortness of breath.

2. Consult Your Doctor

Recovery after a moderate or severe form of coronavirus disease is safer under the supervision of a rehabilitation physician. It makes sense to consult a pulmonologist. But if there is no way to meet with these doctors, you need to consult at least a therapist.

3. Get Screened For Cardiac Symptoms

It is important to be screened for cardiac symptoms prior to starting any rehabilitation program. Or rehabilitation may hurt rather than help. In addition, during exercise, it is important to monitor pulse and blood pressure.

Also, ensure that the heart rate (HR) does not exceed 60% of the maximum recommended for a particular patient. The doctor will help to deal with these indicators.

4. Try Breathing Exercises

There are many techniques; you can also try the most popular breathing exercises to cope with the shortness of breath. You can perform such exercises at home, focusing on instructions from online lessons.

5. Get Physical Rehabilitation

Physical rehabilitation is primarily about movement. As a rule, they start with breathing exercises, then move on to light stretching and strengthening the muscles. Then, little by little, aerobic training gets introduced, such as walking and exercises on a stationary bike.

Exercise 2-3 times a week is enough. There is evidence that even a less intense program can improve endurance and reduce fatigue. Moreover, if the patient feels worse (for example, if he has new chest discomfort), be sure to inform the doctor about it. The doctor will shorten the selected program or recommend temporarily postponing the exercises.

Bottom Line

After coronavirus disease, dyspnea, according to various sources, persists in 10–71% of patients. You can manage shortness of breath with a rehabilitation program. If the patient was ill in the hospital, as a rule, he/she should undergo rehabilitation there while patients with mild illness can recover at home.

The home rehabilitation program includes a consultation with a doctor, breathing exercises, and workouts that start with light stretching and end with aerobic exercise. Remember, if the patient suddenly feels worse, it is important to inform the doctor as soon as possible.


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