Why are so many people still suffering from ill health months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2? These prolonged symptoms are so prevalent now that they have even acquired the collective name of “long-haul COVID”,
What are the symptoms?
Unlike the common cold or even influenza, this virus seems to be causing a bewildering array of symptoms that persist long after the acute illness is resolved. What is really strange is that it may even occur in those who only had a mild case of the virus. In the worst cases it has rendered the affected unable to resume their usual activities. Truth is we haven’t fully grasped all the implications of this pernicious, and still somewhat mysterious ailment. But the time has come to acknowledge that it is real and needs to be addressed.
Most long-haulers report (some even 8 months after surviving the initial infection), one or more of the following symptoms:
Brain fog or cognitive impairment, fatigue, respiratory problems, breathlessness after physical exertion, headache, loss of sense of smell or taste, tinnitus, earache, dizziness or vertigo.
In broader terms post-COVID can be considered to be a lack of return to a usual state of health.
What causes long haul COVID?
The jury is still out on this and may be for a long time yet. It has been suggested that cell damage, an inflammatory immune response, and abnormal blood clotting may be the cause of the long-term symptoms. It is understandable that patients who experienced severe COVID infection damage to multiple organs such as the heart, lungs, or kidneys could experience the longer-lasting symptoms. However this does not explain why mild COVID cases may also experience persistent symptoms.
There is some consensus that chronic, low-grade neuro-inflammation generated by the disease may cause chronic fatigue and some of the other neurological symptoms of long-haul COVID. Another possibility is previous autoimmunity and some evidence has even shown that COVID infection itself can trigger autoimmunity which may be behind long-haul COVID.
What can we do about long-haul COVID?
Taking into consideration the likelihood that COVID infection is causing inflammation throughout the body one needs to address the probability of inflammation from the onset of attack. Inflammation will occur as the body fights the virus. We need to assist the body to deal with the pathogen immediately to reduce the resulting damage. Our ability to accomplish this depends to a large extent on our levels of nutrients that support the immune system. As such, natural medicine has an important role to play in supporting our health and reducing the risk of severe COVID infection and subsequent long-haul COVID.
As I have discussed so many times before, prevention using food and supplements comes first. Failing that, then early treatment the moment you feel flu symptoms coming on, is paramount.
However if you are already dealing with post-COVID symptoms then first and foremost deal with the inflammation in your body.
At the same time you should very gently coax your immune system back to its former strength. We all know by now that vitamin D’s role in the immune system, and in COVID generally, has been very well documented. So get out into the sun as often as you can with much of your body exposed and also take a Vitamin D supplement, (8000-10000IU a day is the current recommendation for post-COVID), together with vitamin C and zinc.
Supporting brain function may help address COVID long-haul issues such as brain fog, cognitive impairment and depression. Take omega-3 essential fatty acids – 600mg combined EPA+DHA per day.
Many long-haulers would be suffering from gut dysbiosis allowing pro-inflammatory bacteria to thrive. Restore your gut health with plenty of phytonutrients and probiotics and by eliminating sugar entirely from your diet
What NOT to do!
Although some have suggested that long-haul COVID can be likened to chronic fatigue syndrome this is not the time to try to boost your energy with “tonics”. It is also not the time to try to kick your immune system into action. Your body is in a weak state and could be propelled into a stressed state if you try to force it to build immunity too quickly. Easy does it.