Best 5 Ways to Recover from Long Covid
Long COVID, also referred to as Post Covid-19 Syndrome, describes a range of symptoms that continue for weeks or months after the acute phase of a COVID-19 infection has resolved. It can affect anyone who has had COVID-19, regardless of the severity of their initial infection.
I have some fairly good experience of talking about long covid, as I have been working as a physiotherapist in a long covid clinic for about one year, and I have treated around 200 patients with long covid.
Symptoms of Long Covid
They include, but are not limited to:
- Fatigue: Many people report feeling extremely tired, even after minor activities. This is very common.
- Breathlessness: Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath. Some people with breathlessness have issues caused by the heart. We are unsure if those heart issues were caused by covid, or the vaccine, as both have been reported. In some cases, breathlessness is caused by an issue with the lungs.
- Recurrent Fevers: Many people report getting more infections.
- Joint pain: This was usually underlying, or pre-existing.
- Chest pain: This is usually caused by the heart, as mentioned above. This is a serious sign.
- Brain fog: Difficulty thinking or concentrating.
- Memory problems. People occasionally report difficulty retaining short term information.
- Loss of taste or smell: This can persist or, in some cases, may come and go.
- Heart palpitations: This is related to a heart issue.
- Mental health problems: Such as depression, anxiety, and mood changes.
- Muscle aches: Usually from being sedentary, or previously underlying.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: Including nausea, diarrhea, and stomach aches.
The exact cause of long COVID is still unclear. Some theories suggest it might be due to the virus lingering in some small pockets of the body, an immune response that hasn't shut down properly after the acute phase of the disease, or some form of post-viral syndrome. For me, there are three potential main issues:
- Weakness in the immune system that leaves the body unable to recover.
- Heart issue as a result of the covid or the vaccine that reduces cardiovascular output and function leaving people fatigued and breathless.
- People with underlying poor health generally, but long covid is blamed.
Management and Treatment:
Most hospitals in the UK have set up long covid clinics, and in some cases the GP federation has set them up. There should be access to a long covid clinic in your area. But bare in mind, medicine does not have the solution to your problems. There's no drug. There's no injection. There's no surgery.
Best 5 Ways to Recover from Long Covid:
1. Improve your immune health
I am not surprised when I see people reporting recurrent infections or repeat colds and coughs. People have poor immune systems and their bodies are not fighting infections. These people will typically repeatedly request antibiotics from their GP (which is the wrong thing to do). You need to improve your body's immune health. How do you do that? Stop smoking. Stop eating crap (see below). Stop drinking nonsense (see below). Improve your sleep (see below). Improve your vitamin D levels by getting outside and sunlight. Do some gentle exercise. Stop taking drugs. Reduce non-essential medications. Reduce stress. Basically, do good things for your body.
2. Lose weight
The majority of long covid sufferers in my clinic are overweight. If you are overweight, there's a good chance you won't sleep well. If you don't sleep well, you won't recover well. If you are overweight, you are far more likely to have breathing difficulties. If you are overweight, you are likely to elevated blood pressure and be placing a lot of stress on your heart. When you lose weight, you reduce stress on the heart, breathing improves, sleep improves, you exercise more, and your body's immune system recovers.
3. Eat healthy
Most of the patients in my long covid clinic eat terribly. Many have diabetes and high blood sugar levels. Many have a high-carb diet, eat too much junk, and are wondering why they feel tired all the time. Reduce carbs, that's potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and noodles. Your body will immediately get more energy. Stop eating bread every day. Try reducing what you eat. Fasting is fantastic (just be careful if you take diabetes medications like gliclazide as you don't want a hypo). Try cutting out lunch to start with.
4. Drink healthy
One of my patients came in. When I asked his issues, he told me since getting covid he was getting shakes, muscle spasms, and twitches in his hands. When I asked him about his lifestyle, he seemed to be quite stressed. When I asked him about what he drank each day, he told me 7 large mugs of coffee. I said to him, I think I know why you get the shakes. Whatever you do, avoid coffee, Monster, Red Bull, Prime, fizzy drinks and alcohol. Instead, drink spring water. Myself, I drink spring water from glass bottles and that's what I give to my kids and family. The extra cost is worth it. Flush your body with water, and reduce caffeine, and other chemicals.
5. Breathing Exercises
Breathing is one of the most fundamental things we do as a human. Yet every single patient I see with long covid has breathing issues. They often shallow breathe, invert breathe, or hyperventilate. I often spend time re-educating people how to breathe. I learned correct breathing technique 20 years ago, and it has been an automatic process ever since. Not only do we teach you how to breathe properly, but we will pump your lungs with rib pushes, and chest compressions. It really is fantastic and so many patients report feeling better afterward.
OK, so we covered 5 ways, but here is one more tip!
6. Improve sleep
Rest and recover. You heal in your sleep. Sleep is good for the immune system. Yet the majority of my patients do not sleep well. Many have worries, anxiety, things on their mind, and stresses. Some just stay awake during the night because they nap during the day.
We can support your recovery from long covid at Surrey Physio. It won't be massage and it won't be pretty. This is real. We will make you feel uncomfortable. Some people will not like being told to change their lives, some people will not agree to stop smoking, some people will not like being told to lose weight. Rehab is hard. If you want to recover, call our clinic on 02086856930 and ask for one of us who treats long covid and be prepared to change your life.