Post-Intensive Care Syndrome: The Red Flags to Watch Out For

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome: The Red Flags to Watch Out For

Patient in a hospital bed with nurse and wife beside himHas a loved one or yourself stayed in an intensive care unit (ICU) due to a critical life-threatening illness or injury? If yes, you’re probably well aware of the mixed feelings and emotions that come after such an intense experience.

You probably feel relieved and blessed that you’re well enough to be discharged, but receiving ICU care could also be traumatic not only to your body, but to your emotions as well. These could take a toll on you physically, mentally, and emotionally after your discharge and lead to Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS).

How Post-Intensive Care Syndrome Affects You

Intensive care could negatively impact your body, feelings, mind, thoughts, as well as interactions and communication with family and friends. As you transition from intensive care to the real world, there’s a huge chance that you might not have the same physical, emotional, and mental abilities you once had.

The symptoms could be as evident as reduced mobility and fatigue due to degenerated muscles. It could also be something less evident, such as anxiety, depression, or cognitive decline. Landmark Hospital Salt Lake City and other renowned physicians in Utah add that your risk of developing PICS increase if any or all of the following apply to you:

  • If you have sepsis or an infection that requires daily care
  • If you stayed in the intensive care unit for more than three days
  • If you require a mechanical ventilator to aid your breathing
  • If more than one of your organs were affected
  • If you’re experiencing weakness from weakened muscles and nerves
  • If you can’t get your appetite back
  • If you have difficulties with reasoning, memory, and attention
  • If you’re experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms along with terrifying hallucinations or memories

Common Symptoms of Post-Intensive Care Syndrome

Patients suffering from PICS usually experience various symptoms, with the most common being the following:

  • Physical Symptoms – Weakness, fatigue, pain, balance issues, reduced mobility, and difficulty performing daily tasks that were previously part of your daily routine like house chores or driving
  • Emotional Symptoms – Irritability, mood swings, anger, sleep problems, nightmares, agitation, flashbacks, anxiety, and depression
  • Mental Symptoms – Difficulty concentrating, thinking or recalling things, confusion, and mental fog

It’s vital to note that not every person who received intensive care would develop post-intensive care syndrome. For those that do, however, it’s normal for them to conceal their symptoms or overcompensate for their difficulties, which could impede their healing and recovery.

Bearing this in mind, if you or someone you know is experiencing the post-intensive care syndrome symptoms mentioned above, it might require more time and special attention for recovery.

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