The COVID-19 disease and its pandemic have impacted the world in nearly all spheres of human activity. It has changed how the economic, social, educational, and many other systems function. In addition, it has led to many tragedies as it took the lives of millions of people and damaged the health of millions of others. COVID-19 posed many challenges to the medical field, causing crisis and emphasizing the issues within it, such as the nursing shortage. After the development of a vaccine, the rates of infection and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms began to decrease. However, certain groups of people did not face the disease easily even after vaccination, as the consequences of the disease had affected them for a continuous period. Such cases were diagnosed as long as COVID-19 and are associated with health complications that last for three months or more after being infected with COVID-19.
Long COVID Signs and Symptoms
The COVID-19 disease is associated with many symptoms such as fatigue, extreme coughing, fever, high temperature, sick throat, and headache. Yet, such symptoms do not last long as typically they begin to decrease after 3-4 days in most cases, but can last weeks in severe cases when hospitalization is required. However, the doctors faced a new phenomenon associated with the COVID-19 disease, referred to as long COVID. This condition refers to prolonged symptoms and complications experienced over three months after being diagnosed with COVID-19 (Sudre et al., 2021). Some of the most common symptoms of long COVID include headaches, severe tiredness and fatigue, muscle soreness, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory or concentration (“brain fog”), and difficulty sleeping.
To provide an example of long COVID and its treatment strategies, the persona of a fictional student should be developed. The fictional student in question is a 12-year-old African American male in seventh grade by the name Michael. Four months ago, he was diagnosed with COVID-19. As severe symptoms lasted for about a week, later, he felt better and was ready to gradually return to his daily activities. However, after a while, he noticed that he still lacked the energy and mental capabilities to perform simple daily tasks and had regular trouble sleeping. The student says that he constantly feels tired and drained and does not want to do anything, and simply lying in bed has also exhausted him as he used to be an active student and a member of a school’s basketball team. All the symptoms described by the students point to the fact that he has long COVID.
Main Health Concerns of Long COVID
COVID-19 is undoubtedly a dangerous disease. While it can cause severe chest pains and respiratory issues, it can also lead to complications among the risk groups. Such risk groups include people with cardiovascular conditions, diabetes mellitus 2, elderly people, smokers, and people who have cancer (Sudre et al., 2021). The COVID-19 disease causes extreme pressure on the respiratory organs and cardiovascular systems, and its long-term effects have not yet been studied due to the relatively recent emergence of the virus. However, healthcare providers and researchers are concerned with the possible long-term effects of long COVID.
The healthcare providers are most uncertain about the effective medical treatment of COVID-19 and the post-COVID condition known as long COVID. However, one of the medications that have shown its effectiveness in clearing the symptoms of long COVID is Pfizer’s antivirus drug called Paxlovid. The recommended course of this medication lasts for five days, and there are two cases of symptom relief after that. However, the medication lacks medical trial as many other options due to the recent nature of the post-COVID syndrome (Raveendran et al., 2021). Some of Paxlovid’s side effects include increased blood pressure, muscle aches, and diarrhea. In case the patient experiences respiratory health complications, medications for the clearance of respiratory pathways can be prescribed. The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors interplay with SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 illness (Raveendran et al., 2021). One of the side effects of that is that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) exacerbate the risks of COVID-19 by worsening respiratory distress. For the student in question and his symptoms, trying the Paxlovid course could be one of the options.
The post-COVID condition may be associated with various comorbidities. Medical practitioners base these observations on the behavioral outcome of patients with preexisting conditions such as hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. The findings regarding the vulnerability of COVID-19, which the cardiovascular comorbidities cause anxiety across the world, make it wiser to address the issue (Raveendran et al., 2021). Hence, many of the related diagnoses are closely related to the preexisting conditions of the patient. In the case of the fictional student, the medical history should be checked to identify any preexisting conditions that may act as risk factors for complications in the long COVID. Hence, the two related diagnoses may include hypertension and insomnia.
Conditions such as long COVID require treatment by a multidisciplinary team. This is because the post-COVID condition affects many of the body systems, including the respiratory organs, the immune system, and the cardiovascular system. Healthcare professionals, stakeholders, and consumers are proactively involved in addressing healthcare challenges by offering knowledge and skills to solve the problems. However, for an interprofessional team to work, communication is a crucial aspect of the healthcare framework (Crook et al., 2021). The use of strategic communication allows interprofessional teams to make decisions about complex healthcare issues and provide and promote quality healthcare outcomes. Hence, the multidisciplinary team would include a cardiologist to track cardiovascular health, a pulmonologist to help with respiratory organs, and a pediatrician, as the patient is only 12 years old.
Emergency Action Plan
The patient in question is a 12-year-old African American by the name of Michael. He studies in seventh grade in the school district CPS Chicago Public School. In case of emergency, Michael can be contacted by phone or WhatsApp messenger, as well as his parents, Jackson and Jacquie. The need for emergency associated with the post-COVID condition is explained by the severity of the symptoms, such as constant weakness and fatigue. Another complication that contributes to the likelihood of fatigue is trouble sleeping (Mahase, 2020). The combination of these symptoms leads to an increased likelihood of fainting. Therefore, an emergency plan should be developed to react to such events and deliver proper care in case of complications. Besides, some of the effects of the long COVID can be unpredictable. For example, Michael can experience pain in the chest associated with the cardiovascular system. The personnel required for evacuation would include a school nurse and a teacher who reported the condition.
Critical Signs and Symptoms for School Personnel
The school personnel has to be informed about Michael’s condition to recognize the signs and symptoms of the emergency case. The instructions should include consultations with the multidisciplinary team that provides treatment to Michael. The signs and symptoms that school personnel should keep an eye on in this situation include shortness of breath, reduced activity and detachment from class activities, paleness, difficulties getting up, difficulties concentrating, sleepiness, dizziness, chest pain, and tightness. In case Michael notices or reports any of those symptoms by himself, school personnel should contact somebody from the multidisciplinary team and Michael’s parents to make an informed decision about further actions. In case the evacuation is needed, school personnel need to have a doctor’s office where Michael could rest and wait for the ambulance or his parents to take him home.
COVID-19 is the world’s most profound threat currently. The virus has high mortality rates, and clinicians have yet to find its cure. Furthermore, studies show that the virus excels in habitats where patients have other preexisting conditions. Such conditions include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension. In the case of Michael, the 12-year-old African American male who studies in seventh grade, the COVID-19 disease resulted in what is known as the long COVID. Michael has suffered from the symptoms of long COVID for four months already, which puts him at risk of emergency. Therefore, a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals was gathered to provide sufficient high-quality treatment for Michael. The school personnel must be informed about the signs and symptoms of the emergency case for Michael and instructed to act accordingly in case such events occur during the lesson.
Crook, H., Raza, S., Nowell, J., Young, M., & Edison, P. (2021). Long covid—mechanisms, risk factors, and management. bmj, 374.
Mahase, E. (2020). Covid-19: What do we know about “long covid”?. bmj, 370.
Raveendran, A. V., Jayadevan, R., & Sashidharan, S. (2021). Long COVID: an overview. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, 15(3), 869-875.
Sudre, C. H., Murray, B., Varsavsky, T., Graham, M. S., Penfold, R. S., Bowyer, R. C.,… & Steves, C. J. (2021). Attributes and predictors of long COVID. Nature medicine, 27(4), 626-631.