Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. Things that we thought were only possible in movies or books became our reality and consumed every aspect of our lives.
The first wave of Covid-19 caught the world off-guard and everyone was focused on understanding the nature of this virus.
Today we know a lot about SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the outbreak. The situation is getting better and many things are returning back to normal.
BUT the data shows that more and more people are reporting uncomfortable symptoms that keep lingering long after their initial Covid infection. Based on existing evidence, these symptoms can continue for months and are known as Long Covid Symptoms. Understanding what these symptoms are and how you can achieve symptomatic relief is important.
WHAT IS LONG COVID AND HOW FREQUENT IS IT?
Long COVID is also known as long-haul COVID, chronic COVID or post-COVID condition (PCC). It is a term for the effects of COVID-19 that can continue for weeks and months after having the virus.
The difficulty of diagnosing long COVID makes it hard to estimate its prevalence, however, according to CDC 13.3% of people have long COVID symptoms at one month or longer after the infection, while 2.5% still report symptoms at 3 months and longer. Among people who were hospitalized for COVID-19, the prevalence of long COVID 6 months after hospitalization is more than 30%!
To illustrate the seriousness of the situation, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), long COVID can be classified as a disability and some might even qualify for disability benefits.
WHAT ARE LONG COVID SYMPTOMS?
Not everyone experiences long covid in the same way. The combination of symptoms can vary significantly from person to person not only in duration but also in severity. Studies have confirmed that there are some risk factors that increase the probability of developing Long Covid. These include being a female, having respiratory problems at the onset of COVID and the severity of the illness.
People who were hospitalized for COVID had significantly higher chances of developing long COVID symptoms. Studies also indicate that higher age and BMI also increase the changes of long COVID.
There is a long list of symptoms that people report developing after COVID. The most common ones include fatigue that significantly hinders daily activities, fever, loss of smell, muscle pain, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Problems with thinking and concentrating (also known as brain fog)
- Chest and joint pain
- Heart palpitations
- Depression and anxiety
- Tinnitus and earaches
- Diarrhea, stomach related problems
- Fever, coughing, headaches, etc.
- Feelings of pins and needles
HOW TO RELIEVE LONG COVID SYMPTOMS?
Firstly, it should be noted that currently there is no ‘cure’ for long Covid. Even diagnosing it is problematic, as the symptoms resemble or could be stemming from other conditions. However, in my experience it is still possible to assist in the symptomatic relief and recovery of many of the long Covid symptoms.
- Evidence has shown that people with weakened immunity and chronic inflammatory conditions are more susceptible to COVID. Moreover, Covid-19 can have a long-lasting effect on our immune system that continues for months. Cedars-Sinai researchers explained that the virus that causes COVID-19 could cause hyperactivation of some people’s immune system and lead to long COVID. The spike protein that is associated with the virus may also cross the blood-brain barrier and damage brain cells, causing brain fog and other symptoms.
Determining how COVID causes autoimmune symptoms that result in long COVID is extremely important in order to protect our immune system and avoid long COVID. While scientists are still working on a solution, we can start with activities that support our immune system, reduce excess inflammation, and strengthen our bodies.
Simple yet powerful solutions such as reducing pro-inflammatory foods and supplementing with specific vitamins, minerals, and other supplements is a wonderful way to help support your body, reduce inflammatory signalling, and keep your immune system functioning properly. Some of the most effective supplements for this purpose include:
1. Zinc – which supports immune cell development and plays an important role in inflammatory response
2. Vitamin D – which strengthens your white blood cells and decreases inflammation in the body
3. Quercetin – which is one of the most abundant antioxidants that reduces inflammation
4. Vitamin C – which is important for proper functioning of your immune system, and growth and repair of all body tissues.
5. Glutathione – which is a master antioxidant that supports your cells in making energy for your body.
- There also seems to be a link between inflammation and long COVID. Thus, managing inflammation could be important to alleviating long COVID symptoms. Actually, it has been theorized that long COVID syndrome continues affecting our bodies through chronic, low-grade inflammation (LGI).
Low-grade inflammation is typically triggered by molecules released by damaged cells, indicating that pathogens have attacked the body and immune response is needed. To test this hypothesis, the scientists looked at different markers of inflammation post-COVID to determine whether they stayed elevated. They found that various indicators like the neutrophil count, fibrinogen, neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio and serum C-reactive protein were in upper ranges, indicating the signs of low-grade chronic inflammation.
The symptoms of low-grade inflammation are quite similar to those experienced by people with long COVID: chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, constipation or diarrhea. Additionally, it can cause neuroinflammation in the brain, which manifests itself through brain fog and intermittent fatigue – other symptoms linked to long COVID. There are various natural and medication-based methods for reducing inflammation and related symptoms, including avoiding certain foods, increasing the intake of antioxidants, etc. Finding the right approach requires appropriate testing and analysis.
- Another big problem related to long COVID that often gets overlooked is mental health. Anxiety and stress are a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. It is no surprise that in this stressful time, you might feel more anxious than usual and it’s okay to take time for yourself to manage your mental health. You are doing the best you can in a time when simply turning on the news can feel overwhelming.
However, managing stress levels is extremely important for our mental and physical health. Recent advances in clinical research in the field of mental health are drawing strong connections to family, community, diet & nutrition, environmental toxicity, faith, stress management, etc. as fundamental factors for optimizing our mental health and well-being. You can read more about strategies for improving your mental health here.
- Fatigue is one of the most common long Covid symptoms that people struggle with. It can become too extreme to prevent you from engaging in daily activities. There have even been case studies reporting patients experiencing nerve palsy, also known as nerve disorders in various parts of their bodies after Covid. Allowing your body to recover and relax is important post Covid. Pacing yourself, finding the right time for doing certain activities, taking breaks are great strategies for combating fatigue. However, it is also important to keep your muscles engaged, so full rest mode can also be harmful.
Finding the right balance is needed in your process of recovery. At the Dempster Clinic – Center for Functional Medicine we have various testing methods for chronic fatigue. We can tell you exactly what’s going on with your body and tailor your individualized healing plan. If you are interested in fatigue, its causes and solutions, you can read more here.
- Another symptom that gets patients extremely worried is brain fog. They usually describe this state as having a hard time concentrating or remembering things, feeling dizzy and confused, and being unable to think clearly. Healthy diet, sleep routine, avoiding alcohol, supporting brain activity are all great for engaging and healing your brain.
However, you should avoid overstimulation and take time to restore your brain function. Nutrition is especially important in this process, not only for brain health, but also for energy levels and mood.
- Apart from all that, there are a number of symptom-relieving options, including respiratory therapy, medications, counseling, etc. that can help you with long haul Covid. With our highly personalized treatment and lab testing, naturopathic medicine has the power to restore your health post Covid and alleviate the discomfort caused by symptoms.
Naturopathic, and Functional medicine can provide an effective set of tools and strategies to improve your health. It can even help to treat long-term conditions that other treatments have not resolved.
For example, to strengthen your immunity after COVID and address the health issues caused by long COVID, Intravenous (IV) Vitamin Therapy could be extremely useful. This is the fastest and most effective way of providing our bodies with needed nutrients and replenishing it. There are various types of IV Vitamin therapy treatments that you could choose from, however when it comes to Covid, High-dose Vitamin C treatment is the most effective one in supporting our bodies.
Additionally, detecting signs of chronic inflammation can play an important role in soothing your body and addressing some of the symptoms like fever, brain fog, etc. Proper testing to detect markers of inflammation, like blood tests, C-reactive protein test, plasma viscosity tests and others could help you find solutions to your symptoms. We offer an inflammation assessment to analyze and identify inflammation that may be contributing or leading to a condition. You can find more information about this here.
At The Dempster Clinic, we provide customized approach and treatment programs for each individual patient.
If you are suffering from post Covid symptoms or just want to improve your health post-Covid, feel free to book a complimentary 15-minute discovery session.