What COVID-19 recovery looks like, day by day
- As of April 30, over 1 million people have officially recovered from COVID-19.
- Unofficially, that number is probably much higher.
- But the road to recovery isn't always a smooth one.
- The timeline differs from person to person, but generally, the sicker they are, the longer it takes to get better.
- Here's what recovering from
COVID-19looks like, day by day.
For the latest case total, death toll, and travel information, see Business Insider's live updates here.
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Following is a transcript of the
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Moderate cases are even tougher to categorize. Some of these will follow a similar timeline as mild ones, but some might start to look better after about a week, and then suddenly get worse. This could land them in the hospital for two to three days. Some patients with high fevers and diarrhea might get dehydrated and require IV fluids. And since this virus mainly attacks the respiratory system, a heightened immune response can end up flooding the lungs with fluid. So patients in this category might need supplemental oxygen for a few days to help them breathe better, giving the lungs time to clear up the infection and start working better again.When this doesn't work, then we're looking at severe cases. Symptoms tend to get much worse around the 10-day mark. A severe case is usually marked by pneumonia, and recovery time for these patients is around three to six weeks. But pneumonia can sometimes turn into acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. That's when the lungs are flooded with fluid and the body is severely deprived of oxygen. ARDS is usually what sends a COVID-19 patient to the ICU. And the World
Many get small doses, but higher ones can sometimes induce delirium. A change in the brain that can cause mental or emotional confusion. And it can have a lasting impact on the recovery process, even potentially causing PTSD. So ventilators are oftentimes the last resort. A patient is taken off of ventilator after meeting three criteria. They're able to control their breathing and swallowing on their own. Their oxygen levels are high enough that they can be supported by something less invasive like a nasal cannula. And their lungs can clear carbon dioxide effectively enough not to need assistance.Once off the ventilator, patients usually fall into one of two camps. Best cases, they're up and walking. Some can feel a little weak and might have some weight loss and mild PTSD. They might be able to just take it easy for a week or two to regain their strength. The worst cases might not be able to get out of bed. They might be forgetful or confused probably from delirium, but the physical damage would most likely be seen on the lungs. After severe respiratory disease and ventilation, many patients will have pulmonary fibrosis that could leave the lungs scarred and less functional. Patients could require rehabilitation, which could mean staying a couple of months in a skilled nursing facility before they can go home. And it could take upwards of a year working with psychologists, speech therapists, and other medical professionals to work through the effects of a ventilator. So in the worst cases after the patient finally leaves the hospital, it could take up to 18 months before they really feel back to normal. We're still too early on in this pandemic to know everything about recovery, which is part of the reason the current number of recovered patients is so low. Many people are still sick, but we'll eventually get better. And the more people who recover, the more we'll learn, and vice versa. For now, the best thing we can do is try to lessen the number of people who get sick in the first place. So wash your hands, keep your distance, and be patient.
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