How Can You Help Long COVID?
Long COVID is a new, debilitating condition, that can follow a COVID-19 infection. However, post-viral illness is nothing new. In fact, it’s a very common thing I have been treating in my practice over the last 25 years.
The main symptoms I see include, tiredness, weakness, brain fog, heart palpitations, mental health issues, dizziness, gut issues, body aches and pains, and sometimes sinus or breathing issues. There is a long history of natural medicine being used for post-viral illness.
There are two main ways Long COVID appears to affect people:
- Respiratory symptoms, such as a prolonged cough and shortness of breath, as well as symptoms of chronic fatigue and headaches.
- A more complex picture affecting many parts of the body, including the brain, gut and heart.
The Cause of Ongoing Post Viral Symptoms
If you have had a virus, like COVID, and feel you never properly recovered, you may be wondering why so many people have managed to fully recover with relative ease. Afterall, it’s the same virus.
The difference is in the environment and genetics in which the virus finds itself. It’s not just the virus causing the long-term symptoms, what is more important is the health status and genetic makeup that determine how well a person can shake off the virus and to what extent.
Let’s have a closer look.
Age does play its role in the likelihood of Long COVID developing, as it does statistically with the severity of the COVID-19 infection. Long COVID affects around 10% of 18-49 year olds who become unwell with COVID-19, rising to 22% of over 70s.
Lots of peope I see with Chronic Fatigue and post viral illness generally can be in the 20s and 30s. So age is not always a guideline, but the statistics are useful.
How Healthy is the Host?
How healthy are you?
It’s not always an easy question to answer.
How a person will be impacted by COVID-19 during and after is very much determined by how healthy you are when you get infected.
While you may feel fine, fit and healthy, when something like COVID-19 comes along, it can act as the trigger, or the straw that breaks the camels back. In short, it can expose the fact that beneath the surface all is not as well as it may have appeared. Very quickly, a person can go from being asymptomatic to feeling very unwell.
In addressing Long Covid, what’s important, is to pin point what was going on below the surface.
History of Glandular Fever
For many with post viral fatigue, a history of Glandular Fever leaves its mark and plays a role, or another sickness that was difficult to recover from. For those with such a history, Long COVID is more likely to grip.
A common theme post Glandular Fever can be a congested lymphatic system. If the lymphatics are not working well the immune system is compromised and the body can’t effectively clear out waste material via this channel. The knock on effect is the post-viral type symptoms experienced by people with Long COVID and often by those who have had Glandular Fever.
COVID-19 can, for some, cause a massive strain on the body, effectively whipping up an internal storm. If your body is already inflamed, from poor diet, stress, infections, injuries, chronic health conditions, being rundown, or overuse of medications, such as antibiotics, bringing COVID-19 into the picture is going to be that much more challenging for the body to handle. Inflammation in the body can make you feel very unwell. Furthermore, inflammation in general underlies nearly every disease you can think of from Dementia and Diabetes, to Cancer and Autoimmune health problems.
Bringing down inflammation with a low carbohydrate and low sugar diet is a good first step. Natural medicines can specifically be applied to reduce inflammation also.
70% of the immune system is in the gut, so this is an important area to optimise for recovery. What’s more, gut issues are a common symptom of Long COVID. If the gut is not operating well, it can affect the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients, which are vital for recovery.
Iridology, which I provide in my practice, is a good way to test for leaky gut and damage to the gut lining. The virus can cause great damage to the gut lining, which in turn allows particles to leak across the bowel wall into the blood stream.
Another issue is that because much of the immune system is in this part of the body, histamine production goes into overdrive and the body is on high alert. For some people this can trigger Mast Cell Activation, which produces a range of uncomfortable symptoms. In such cases a low histamine or Paleo diet can bring about relief.
It is widely thought that part of the virus gets stuck in the bowel, and exacerbates the Long COVID symptoms.
Probiotics, natural antivirals, antibacterials, fermented foods, fruits and vegetables are an important part of restoring a healthy microbiome. In addition, there are some very effective natural remedies to help heal the gut wall.
For some cases, stool testing can be of great benefit.
Supporting genetic predispositions to oxidative stress and inflammation with specific nutrients is a helpful way to counter this issue.
For example, 60% of the population inherit a MTHFR gene. This in turn affects your body’s ability to utilise synthetic folic acid, which results in many being low in naturally occuring folic acid. Folic acid is important for many reasons, but in this context it helps the body to produce Glutathione, which protects your body from oxidative stress.
Optimising Glutathione, with or without this gene is important. This can be done in several different ways, from diet to supplementing with NAC.
There are other genetic factors which can also play a role, such as IFNG pro-inflammatory gene, affected by viruses and bacteria. Making sure you have sufficient B vitamins is important for this particular genetic pathway.
If you have been affected by Long COVID or want to find out more, please get in touch and we can discuss it on the phone.
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On this site, I aim is to provide well-researched information, in order to empower readers to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing. In both alternative and allopathic medicine new discoveries are being made and there are vast choices available to people, something to be mindful of. Nicholas Dale, Naturopath is not seeking to impose his views on readers, but rather encourage them to seek out any professional help they may need (in whatever form that may take) and discover what is best for them.
Information on this site should not be taken as medical guidance or advice. Readers should always consult personally with their healthcare provider. Information published on this site is not intended to act as a substitute for advice of medical professionals, and should not be taken as such.