ARISE UAE –RAK Hospital COVID Rehabilitation Program findings

47.5% COVID long-haulers complained of Chronic Fatigue as the most common symptom

Uncontrolled Chronic Ailments, Sleeplessness, Depression, Brain-Fog and Breathing Difficulties were also reported as other key issues

17th May 2021; Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: In about 30% of the patients who suffered COVID-19, lingering health problems continue to present challenges that hamper their quality of life and ability to perform simple daily tasks. Such people are known as COVID “long haulers”.  To help patients suffering from long COVID symptoms, ARISE UAE in association with RAK Hospital had launched a comprehensive ‘Online Covid-19 Rehabilitation Program’ a few weeks ago, which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world.

ARISE, the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, is a network of private sector entities led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

The data gathered from the program highlights the key concerns faced by the patients post the infection. Chronic Fatigue at 47.5% was presented as the top-most debilitating symptom, whereas the global figure from multiple studies stands at 52%.

Furthermore, chronic ailments such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Arthritis, Obesity, Digestive ailments, etc, are often exacerbated due to COVID-19 and remain out of control for several months. As against a global finding of 39%, 42.5% of the studied complained of being unable to control these post-COVID.

“Since it’s a new disease and our understanding is still limited, what we have learnt so far is that the symptoms can continue for 3-9 months and pose challenges for people experiencing it. Even though it is established that certain risk factors including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, heart conditions etc make people more likely to suffer a serious bout of the infection, there isn’t, however, a clear link between these risk factors and long-term issues faced by people. In fact, long COVID may also present in people who may have had mild symptoms during the infectious phase”, commented Dr Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director, RAK Hospital.

Sleeplessness, which can be defined as the inability to go to sleep, or to retain sleep, or to get up refreshed in the morning came third from top as an exhausting persistent symptom of the disease. A sleep robber for 40% of global COVID patients, 37.5% patients complained of insomnia according to the study.

The study also revealed Depression (32.5%), Confusion and Brain Fog (27.5%) and Loss of Taste and Smell (20%) as other symptoms presented within the COVID long-haulers.

“The disruption of the sleep cycle is one of the earliest warning signs of mental ill-health. In long COVID cases, they can manifest as an isolated symptom or as one of a cluster of symptoms ranging from mood fluctuations, dysphoria, crying bouts to loss of interest. They may also be accompanied by worries about the future, health of themselves and loved ones. These outcomes can be partly attributed to the changes in our brain due to COVID 19 infection.

However, much of it can be understood from a trauma model or stress-diathesis paradigm. What this means is that affected people have certain vulnerabilities within themselves-personality characteristics, family history, or presence of chronic and multiple stressors which when combined by social isolation of quarantine and hospitalization  may lead to  adverse mental health outcomes”, stated Ms Prateeksha Shetty, Clinical Psychologist at RAK Hospital.

Moreover, SARS Covid -19 is primarily a respiratory ailment, the inability to oxygenate sufficiently  impacts the entire body, causing cardio-vascular and neurological problems.

31% of the global population and 35% of the program users continue to suffer from breathing difficulties. In the study, 22.5% suffered from cardiovascular problems while 35% from neurological issues. Global studies place the figure at 15% for cardiac problems and 80% for neurological.

“Brain fog may last for many months after contracting COVID-19, which relates to a general feeling of fuzziness or being spaced out. People have reported not feeling like themselves, experiencing confusion, short-term memory loss or an inability to concentrate. The reasons are still unknown and are being investigated, though largely can be attributed to issues of blood supply and cytokines in the brain which cause inflammation. On the other hand, some researchers have also pointed towards micro structural changes in the memory circuit of the brain as a reason for brain fog.

Additionally, Poor sleep, dietary changes, feelings of anxiety and depression may also contribute to the exacerbation of the symptom. In reality, up to 70% of patients with severe COVID-19 may have neurological sequelae of one or the other kind. The best treatment to avoid brain fog when you contract the infection is to avoid anxiety, have good sleep, eat a balanced diet, avoid alcohol, and take multivitamins and other micronutrients”, added Dr Sweta Adatia, Specialist Neurologist and Medical Director at RAK Hospital.

Led by Arabian Wellness & Lifestyle Management, RAK Hospital’s wellness division, this comprehensive COVID recovery rehabilitation program combines the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nutritionists, psychologists and physiotherapists.

“To help long-haulers effectively recognize and manage the concerns, the COVID Rehabilitation Program team at the RAK Hospital conducts bi-monthly webinars where all Post-Covid issues including Digestive problems, Chronic fatigue, Neurological issues etc are adequately addressed by our esteemed panel of experts. Moreover, local patients can also book complimentary appointments and meet the respective physician/specialty personally, whereas international patients can book tele-consultations”, concluded Prof. Adrian Kennedy, Chief Wellness Officer, Arabian Wellness & Lifestyle Management.

People interested in seeking guidance can log onto to register for the program, then undergo  the online health scan after which they will receive a health prescription tailored to their individual situation.