Recovery Time For COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection

Infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Short recovery time is observed when an individual suffers from seasonal flu infection than bacterial and parasite infection. Viruses are much smaller in size than bacteria and parasites. Viral infections are often difficult to treat. The influenza virus causes the most seasonal infections like flu. The individual suffering from seasonal viral infection gets better with conservative treatment in 5 to 10 days. The treatment of viral infections includes Tylenol for fever, cough syrup for cough and nasal drops for nasal discharge, and block nose. The seasonal influenza infection is more common and mostly observed in children and young adults. The coronavirus frequently causes mild to moderate disease in birds and animals.1 Once in a while; coronavirus infection spreads in humans from an animal source like a bat. Such coronavirus infection causes acute respiratory distress syndrome. The recent epidemics caused by coronavirus infections are SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MARS (Middle East Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

Origin of Covid-19 Infection-

The pandemic coronavirus infection of 2019-20 is caused by a coronavirus classified as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).2 SARS-C0V-2 is also identified as COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease-19) The COVID-19 infection originated in December or earlier at Wuhan, China. The most published report suggests coronavirus virus was transmitted to humans from the infected bat at the wet market near the city of Wuhan.3 The alternative theory describes disease was spread by an infected individual who was working at the research lab of Wuhan research institution.4

Incubation Period of COVID-19 Viral infection-

The symptoms of Covid-19 appear after 2 to 11 days following the invasion of the virus in the human body.5 Such a period is known as the incubation period. The present pandemic COVID-19 infection is caused by a potent virus identified as SARS-CoV-2. The mean incubation period is about 6.4 days.5

Recovery from Acute Respiratory Syndrome-

The epidemic of COVID-19 rapidly spread from Wuhan to the entire region of China as well as the whole world and become a pandemic infection.6 The disease caused severe morbidity and higher mortality, unlike previous coronavirus epidemics like SARS and MERS. The recovery period of individuals suffering from COVID-19 coronavirus infection depends on the spread of disease within the respiratory system. The severe and extensive spread of COVID-19 infection within the respiratory tract takes a longer time to recover. Mild symptoms are observed when COVID-19 infection is localized in the nose (rhinitis) and mouth (pharyngitis). Symptoms become severe when the disease is wide spreads and involves larynx (laryngitis), trachea, bronchi (bronchitis), and alveoli (pneumonia). Coronavirus enters the human body through nose, mouth, or eyes.

SARS-CoV-2 virus penetrates epithelial cells of mucosal layers within the nasal cavity, mouth, or eyes. The spread of the infection further down the respiratory tract is restricted in individuals with higher resistance and immunity. An individual with lower immunity and physiological resistance, the COVID-19 coronavirus rapidly multiplies and spreads from the mouth and nasal cavity to the lungs. The spread involves pharynx, larynx (voice box), trachea, bronchi, and alveoli (lungs). Recovery time is shorter if the infection is localized in the nose and pharynx. Recovery time becomes longer when COVID-19 coronavirus infection spreads through the bronchi and lungs.

A. Rhinitis Caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus-

The spread of the virus in nasal mucosa is known as rhinitis. Rhinitis causes sneezing and running or dripping nose. Recovery time is shorter if the infection does not spread to the throat and trachea. Rhinitis may last for 3 to 7 days. Patients suffering from rhinitis may feel body ache and joint pain.

B. Pharyngitis Caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus-

The condition is known as pharyngitis when the infection spreads within the throat and mouth. Pharyngitis causes throat itching, cough, and pain over the back of the mouth. Pharyngitis may be associated with rhinitis. Like rhinitis, individuals suffering from pharyngitis may feel body ache, joint pain, and in a few cases, fever.

C. Laryngitis Caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus-

Infection from the nose (rhinitis) and mouth (pharyngitis) in most cases spreads to the larynx (voice box). Laryngeal infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known as laryngitis. Laryngitis causes a hoarse voice, cough, and breathing difficulties. Breathing difficulties and hoarse sounds are caused by swelling of vocal cord secondary to inflammation caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus infection.

D. Tracheitis Caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus-

The COVID-19 infection, such as pharyngitis and laryngitis, rapidly spreads into the trachea. The trachea is a breathing tube that continues from the larynx (voice box) and splits into right and left bronchi. The tracheal infection results in mucosal inflammation that secretes mucous and serous secretions known as sputum. Tracheal inflammation causes mild to severe cough, fever, body ache, joint pain, and headache.

Bronchitis Caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus

E. Bronchitis Caused by COVID-19 coronavirus-

The SARS-CoV-2 virus infection rapidly spreads from the trachea to both rights and left bronchi. The condition is known as bronchitis. Right and left bronchi branches out to smaller bronchi known as bronchioles and terminal bronchi. The infection spreads to bronchiole and terminal bronchi within 4 to 12 hours. The COVID-19 viruses rapidly destroy the epithelial cells of the mucosal membrane of the bronchial tract and cause severe inflammation. Such inflammation caused by COVID-19 coronavirus results in swelling of bronchi and terminal bronchioles. The swelling of the wall of bronchi and terminal bronchiole is predominantly caused by mucosal edema. The inflamed mucosal cells secrete a mucosal fluid that is discharged into the lumen of bronchi and bronchioles. The diameter of the terminal bronchiole is 0.2 to 0.4 mm. The swelling of the bronchiolar wall and collection of sputum within the lumen of the bronchi and bronchiole obstructs the airflow during inspiration and expiration. Such obstruction causes severe breathlessness and cough. The other symptoms observed are fever, joint pain, body ache, myalgia, and fatigue.

F. Pneumonia Caused by COVID-19 Coronavirus-

Terminal bronchi are surrounded by several air sacs known as alveoli. The alveoli are filled with inspired air at the end of inspiration and expired air at the beginning of expiration. Inspiration is the act of breathing in air, and expiration is breathing out the air from alveoli. During inspiration, oxygen from the alveolar sac is transferred to the red blood cells (RBC). RBC flows through the capillaries within the wall of alveoli.

Similarly, carbon dioxide is removed from red blood cells and shifted to alveoli. Red blood cells circulate within a thin layer of capillaries. Capillaries lie within the thin alveolar wall. SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection causes pneumonia when the infection spreads to terminal bronchiole and alveoli. Pneumonia causes severe shortness of breath. Such shortness of breath is also known as dyspnea. Shortness of breath is caused because mucosal secretion fills the alveolar sac, and the patient is unable to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide in alveoli. A patient suffering from pneumonia is considered in serious condition. Pneumonia causes fever, cough, dyspnea (short of breath), fatigue, headache, and joint pain.

Recovery Time of Symptoms Caused by Mild COVID-19 Coronavirus infection-

The individual suffering from mild symptoms recovers faster than severe symptoms. Mild symptoms are caused by rhinitis, pharyngitis, and early bronchitis.

  1. General symptoms-
    1. Body ache
    2. Fatigue
  2. Specific Symptoms-
    1. Fever
    2. Nasal discharge
    3. Throat pain
    4. Cough

Recovery Time of Symptoms Caused by Severe COVID-19 Coronavirus infection-

The symptoms become severe when COVID-19 coronavirus infection spreads from nose to lung. The recovery period is prolonged when a patient suffers from pneumonia. The following severe symptoms are observed when an individual is suffering from laryngitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

  1. General symptoms-
    1. Body ache
    2. Joint pain
    3. Fatigue
    4. Headache
    5. Myalgia
  2. Specific Symptoms-
    1. Fever
    2. Nasal discharge
    3. Throat pain
    4. Cough
    5. Hoarseness of voice
    6. Breathing difficulties
    7. Cyanosis
    8. Tachycardia
    9. Irregular heartbeats
    10. Chest pain

Recovery Time of Individual Suffering from COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection

The recovery period is defined as the days needed to recover from infection once the initial symptoms are observed. Recovery time is also considered as quarantine time. The recovery period includes the incubation period, symptomatic period, and post-symptomatic period. All patients transmit viruses during incubation and symptomatic period. Most individuals transmit viruses during the post-symptomatic period for 1 to 4 weeks.7

The time required to recover from COVID-19 coronavirus infection depends if one is suffering from mild or severe symptoms.7 An individual suffering from COVID-19 disease is considered recovered when the patient becomes asymptomatic. Recovery time is shorter for a mild infection and prolonged for severe infection. Most patients recover from symptoms like running nose, sore throat, and cough recovers in 7 to 10 days. Patients should continue isolation for an additional one week to prevent transmission of disease. Thus patients suffering from mild symptoms need to be in quarantine during the period of incubation (4 to 7 days), a period of symptoms (5 to 10 days), and then add 7 days to prevent transmission of infection.

Mild Coronavirus Infection: Recovery Time

The recovery time for the individual suffering with mild COVID-19 coronavirus infection is shorter. Recovery time includes incubation, symptomatic, and post-symptomatic period.

  1. Incubation period- 2 to 12 days
  2. Symptomatic period- 5 to 10 days
  3. Post symptomatic period- 4 to 7 days.

The total time needed to recover following the beginning of mild symptoms caused by rhinitis and pharyngitis is 21 to 28 days. The individual suffering from COVID-19 coronavirus infection can transfer viruses to healthy individuals during 10 to 14 days of symptomatic period and also during the following 10 to 14 days of the post-symptomatic recovery period. Thus total recovery time is 21 to 28 days or longer.

Severe Coronavirus Infection: Recovery Time

  1. Incubation period- 2 to 12 days
  2. Symptomatic period-
    1. The recovery period of COVID-19 patient not treated with a ventilator– 10 to 15 days.
    2. The recovery period of COVID-19 patient treated with a ventilator- 21 to 35 days
  3. Post symptomatic period- 10 to 15 days.

The total time needed to recover from the severe infection and prevent transmission of COVID-19 coronavirus is 5 to 8 weeks for the patients who were not treated with a ventilator. The recovery time is 8 to 12 weeks or longer for individuals who had severe COVID-19 coronavirus and treated with ventilator treatment.

Why Quarantine During Time of Recovery?

The COVID-19 coronavirus is rapidly transmitted from an infected individual to a healthy individual during close contacts. Thus all patients, whether suffering from mild or severe symptoms, should be isolated. Isolation is also known as quarantine. Quarantine is needed to prevent the transfer of COVID-19 infections to healthy close family members, friends, and colleagues at the workplace. The disease can transmit to another human during the stage of mild and severe symptoms. The viruses are discharged in the nasal secretion, saliva, and sputum. The droplets of nasal secretions, saliva or sputum, are released through mouth and nose during the conversation, sneezing, and coughing. The floating droplets can travel for 2 to 6 feet depends on the force of exhalation during the conversation, sneezing, and coughing. The droplets or secretions often spread over the palm of the infected individual as well as surrounding objects and furniture. The COVID-19 coronavirus is transferred when a healthy individual inhales infected droplets, shakes the hand of the infected individual, and touches dry or wet secretions that are dropped on furniture or surrounding objects. Isolation or quarantine of infected individuals is essential during incubation, symptomatic, and post-symptomatic period.

References:

  1. Coronavirus infections: Epidemiological, clinical and immunological features and hypotheses Didier Raoult,1 Alimuddin Zumla,2,3 Franco Locatelli,4 Giuseppe Ippolito,5 and Guido Kroemer 6,7,8,9,10,*, Cell Stress. 2020 Mar 2
  2. COVID-19 infection: Origin, transmission, and characteristics of human coronaviruses. Shereen MA 1,2, Khan S1, Kazmi A3, Bashir N1, Siddique R1., J Adv Res. 2020 Mar 16;24:91-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jare.2020.03.005. eCollection 2020 Jul.
  3. COVID-19: a novel zoonotic disease caused by a coronavirus from China: what we know and what we don’t John S Mackenzie and David W Smith, Microbiol Aust. 2020 Mar 17 : MA20013.
  4. Sources believe COVID-19 originated in Wuhan lab as part of China’s efforts to compete with US https://www.ktvu.com/news/sources-believe-covid-19-originated-in-wuhan-lab-as-part-of-chinas-efforts-to-compete-with-us
  5. Incubation period of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infections among travelers from Wuhan, China, 20–28 January 2020 Jantien A Backer, 1 Don Klinkenberg, 1 and Jacco Wallinga 1 , 2, Euro Surveill. 2020 Feb 6; 25(5): 2000062.
  6. Another Decade, Another Coronavirus Stanley Perlman, M.D., Ph.D., N Engl J Med. 2020 Feb 20; 382(8): 760–762.
  7. COVID-19 in a patient with long-term use of glucocorticoids: A study of a familial cluster Yuanyuan Han,a,1 Mao Jiang,a,1 Da Xia,b Lichao He,b Xin Lv,c Xiaohua Liao,c and Jie Menga,⁎, Clin Immunol. 2020 May; 214: 108413.

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