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What to do against long COVID?

We hear about more and more people complaining about never really recovering after having had COVID.

More than 30% of people who get COVID experience long-lasting symptoms. Not only are they continuing to suffer from things like fatigue and shortness of breath, but also an increased risk for things like high blood pressure, insulin dysregulation, and brain inflammation. Source.

Studies in Hong Kong and Italy found that 26% and 55% of people have experienced mental disorders since the pandemic, respectively. One-third post-COVID patients in the UK developed psychiatric disorders within 24 weeks of infection. Topping the list was anxiety and depression. Source

It’s not only affecting people who’ve had it, but also people have been complaining about long haul symptoms after the vaccines (less intense and also less long).

Many migraineurs have been affected with an increase in attacks and duration of attacks.

How is long COVID defined and what are the symptoms?

Long Covid is defined as suffering symptoms 12 weeks or more after diagnosis.

The most commonly reported symptoms are:

  • (Debilitating) fatigue

  • Breathing problems

  • Damage to organs

  • Brain fog

  • Headaches

  • Mental disorders like anxiety, depression

When I hear these stories or am reading these stats, I’m not surprised! What’s frustrating to hear is that most doctors don’t seem to know how to help their patients and many end up being sent home with antidepressants that are not helping people get better.

My colleagues and I have been seeing clearly elevated inflammation markers in people who got blood tests after the vac. And this has been reported in patients suffering from long COVID as well.

“Not having any predispositions or never being sick” doesn’t mean that your immune system is in good shape. Just an example: so many people have issues with their blood sugar (most of them are unaware), which is causing inflammation, but it doesn’t mean that they feel sick or get sick all the time. But it does make them more vulnerable.

People suffering from chronic migraines or auto-immune disorders are more vulnerable to developing long-term symptoms as their immune system is already extremely busy with the existing condition(s) affecting the body and they often already have several herds of inflammation going on that will only exacerbate with the virus.

What do scientists say about the causes of long COVID?

The PHOSP study provided an important clue that lends weight to a hypothesis that long COVID is caused by a continued immune reaction. It found sufferers had increased inflammatory markers. Researchers discovered that the people with the most severe long COVID, and those experiencing brain fog, had the highest levels of inflammation.

There may be a genetic predisposition that determines who is most likely to suffer this kind of immune response, so researchers are conducting large genome-wide association studies that try to locate genes that patients have in common.

Another hypothesis is that the virus attacks the cells’ energy reserves, mitochondria. Sub-groups could be suffering for different reasons — or both hypotheses could be true at once. Source

Everyone agrees that the virus has an impact on your brain: hence the symptoms like impaired cognitive function, brain fog, headaches. This happens as a result of circulatory disorders that lead to a loss of grey matter in the brain that regulates spatial memory and complex decision making. Source.

But it has also been found that there are alterations in the gut microbiome and an increase in leaky gut.

Furthermore, it has been found that the inflammation that occurs during the infection destroys your mitochondria (the cells or “powerhouses” that create your energy), inflames the lining of your blood cells and creates a deficiency of ACE2 (which is the enzyme that regulates inflammation and can help prevent the spread of the virus by occupying the ACE2 receptors that the virus uses to get into your cells and spread throughout the body).

Another factor that plays a role in long COVID is malnutrition: it is essential to fill up nutrient stores - especially with those nutrients that support and nourish your brain, nervous function and those that help manage inflammation and bring antioxidant properties.

What can you do to manage your symptoms?

  1. Enhance ACE2 activity and mitochondrial function

  2. Search & eradicate persisting infection

  3. Pimp up your sleep, diet, lifestyle and exercise

Obviously, you’ll need the help of a good doctor or practitioner (see my contact link below if you want to know more) who can help you with some of these things, but the last one you can do on your own!

This is really something you need to do daily and in the long run, but you CAN get better!

  • Start with lifestyle, sleep and nutrition:

    1. Sleep: go to sleep at regular hours, avoid screens before bed and get sun exposure first thing in the morning - see more in my post on melatonin

    2. Exercise!!! walk every day and increase speed and duration daily. If you can’t walk, use exercise bands to exercise your legs when lying down. Use breath work to enhance your lung function and calm your nervous system (you can find great guided exercises on youtube or apps like Insight timer).

c. Nutrition: focus on high vegetable intake & anti-inflammatory foods, eat fatty fish and supplement with high quality fish oil, make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D and zinc.

  • Go back to the base and heal your gut - get a detailed stool panel and remove sources of inflammation, repair your gut lining and rebalance your microbiome

  • Identify other sources of inflammation or what else is constantly taxing your immune system: sleeping viral or bacterial infections, diet (blood sugar, nutrient deficiencies), food sensitivities, vagal tone, toxic burden, hormone imbalances, stress, trauma….

  • Remove, release and heal these sources of inflammation (this is a long term process of physical and mental detox)

If you are looking for help with managing this, I'd be more than happy to support you. Book a free discovery call here to find out more.

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