New Discoveries about Long Covid, the Hidden Epidemic
Are you still suffering from health issues months after catching Covid-19? Then you’re not alone, because at least one in ten people who’ve tested positive for Covid go on to develop symptoms of long Covid.
Read on to learn more about long Covid and how natural therapies can help.
The Hidden Effects of Covid
Even as infections drop and the pandemic recedes, huge numbers of people are still suffering from the aftereffects of the virus.
If your symptoms persist 12 weeks or longer after the initial infection, you’re deemed to be suffering from post-Covid syndrome, nicknamed long Covid.
Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness, heart palpitations, chest pains, loss of smell and taste, headache, gut issues, joint and muscle pains, skin rashes, anxiety and depression. These symptoms often come and go, changing in severity with no obvious pattern.
After months of suffering these symptoms with no end in sight, those affected not surprisingly feel anxious, depressed, frustrated and with low morale – not helped by the social isolation imposed by the pandemic.
It’s likely many more people are affected than those recorded in official figures, either because they don’t report their symptoms, or they never knew they had Covid as they were asymptomatic or weren’t tested.
Covid and Chronic Fatigue
Covid isn’t the only virus producing post-infectious symptoms, and many people have drawn parallels between long Covid and post-viral chronic fatigue. However, one difference is the severity of long Covid doesn’t always correlate with how badly people were affected by the original disease. Many people who’ve had asymptomatic Covid go on to develop long-term symptoms. And of course, scientific knowledge about long Covid is relatively recent so it hasn’t been possible to study its impact over a long period of time.
Covid and Your Immune System
Much of the damage caused by Covid-19 is down to the immune system going into overdrive, producing masses of white blood cells called cytokines, increasing inflammation. This boost in inflammation is designed to kill the virus, but the warfare does cause collateral damage to other tissues.
In the short term, it’s a natural part of the process of fighting off infection, but causes problems if it becomes ongoing. In long Covid, it’s believed inflammation remains high and the immune system stays in a state of hyperactivity activity long after the initial infection has passed.
Those pre-existing conditions linked with increased susceptibility to serious illness from Covid 19, like diabetes and obesity, are characterised by increased chronic inflammation. In fact, inflammation is now recognised as being behind almost all chronic disease.
It affects your Mitochondria
Your mitochondria are the structures inside your cells providing you with energy, and they’re also key players in your immune response. Dealing with a nasty viral attack takes a lot of energy. Covid can damage your mitochondria leaving them less able to produce the energy you need to recover.
Imbalance in Your Microbiome
Recent findings have revealed imbalances in the bacteria living in your gut microbiome may influence how susceptible you are to developing long Covid. This echoes research finding certain types of gut bacteria known to release inflammatory substances were raised in people who suffered more severely from Covid in the first place.
Because some strains of bacteria release inflammatory substances while others produce chemicals controlling inflammation, the trick is to encourage the types of bacteria in your gut that reduce inflammation.
Whole Body Health
How your body deals with Covid isn’t down to chance or luck, it depends on your body’s resources. If you’re deficient or borderline in important nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C or vitamin D, if your immune system lacks the energy it needs or your microbiome is busy releasing inflammatory chemicals, you may find you take a long time to recover. Fighting off an infection takes a lot of energy and nutrients.
Covid-19 is a complex disease, affecting many different areas of your body. This is why the best approach towards restoring health after Covid is to consider what’s happening in all your interconnected body systems.
Functional Medicine Help for Long Covid
Functional medicine looks at you not only as a whole person but aims to discover the reasons you feel the way you do. Functional testing can be useful to reveal imbalances in your body’s systems.
The aim of your treatment plan will be to reduce inflammation by supporting a healthy microbiome alongside the selective use of plant extracts and nutritional supplements to reverse deficiencies and restore the function of your mitochondria. Lifestyle interventions like stress management, sleep hygiene and targeted exercise along with dietary modifications can be really useful at managing inflammation.
I will help you navigate your way back to optimal health by supporting you every step of the way. Contact me to start your journey towards reclaiming your wellbeing.