The Covid symptoms that just won’t go away

Fatigue has left “many people” in Hawke’s Bay feeling overwhelmed and depressed when they contract Covid-19, experts say. Now, the region has provided support for the victims. Photo/NZME

Health experts say hundreds of people in Hawke’s Bay are struggling to recover after contracting Covid-19.

Those still suffering from shortness of breath, chest pain and heart palpitations and related anxiety disorders can now get support after two waves of Omicron that have swept the region and country this year.

Kate Te Pou is a Nurse Practitioner with Regional Health Unit Te Whatu Ora Te Matau a Māui (formerly Hawke’s Bay District Health Board) and is part of the Covid Community Outreach Service, which supports patients when further assessment is required.

“Some people have difficulty concentrating on work due to brain fog or fatigue, which drives them back to bed in the morning, and despite napping, they never feel refreshed or recovered,” she said.

It’s not just physical activity that can trigger fatigue. Thinking and emotions can also trigger it, so spending a good afternoon with whānau can also make someone tired, she said.

“Fatigue leaves many people feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, as most were previously able to go about their daily activities, work and even go to the gym without worries,” she said. “Simple tasks now become tiring.”

Outreach patients are referred by physicians and then assessed to determine if they need to see a nurse practitioner, allied health practitioner or other services for treatment of acute Covid infection, post-Covid syndrome or prolonged Covid recovery.

Risk assessments are carried out at patients’ homes, over the phone or in primary care, and Te Pou said she would “definitely see” more people with prolonged Covid, defined as symptoms more than 12 weeks after initial infection.

Te Pou said most referrals were people who were at risk for complications from symptoms or had underlying health conditions.

“Women between the ages of 30 and 60, and women with underlying health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, appear to be at higher risk. However, getting vaccinated reduces your chances of getting Covid-19 long-term — so it remains our most Good defense,” she said.

She said rest was still the best way to overcome fatigue, and advised people to “schedule” the things they “need” to do during the day and save the things they “want” to do for the next day.

Persistent symptoms are frustrating, Te Pou said — physical discomfort can be stressful, while mood can be further affected by frustration with not being able to resume daily activities or work.

She recommends relaxation techniques, but support for advice can be obtained by calling 1737 or speaking to a GP.

The Ministry of Health’s daily Covid-19 update yesterday showed 3693 new community cases and 17 deaths, bringing New Zealand’s death toll linked to the virus to 1841. Six of the 402 people in the hospital are in intensive care or highly dependent care units.

On August 16, the seven-day rolling average of community cases totaled 4,073, down from the latest count of 3,496.

In Hawke’s Bay, 16 people were reported to have contracted the virus today. One death has been reported in Hawke’s Bay in the past 24 hours.

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