Covid Long-Hauler Recovery: Tips for Coping with Symptoms
The COVID-19 virus can cause a variety of symptoms in those who become infected. The most common symptoms are a chronic cough, fatigue, fever, breathing problems, and a temporary loss of smell. These symptoms, which vary in severity from very mild to life-threatening, develop anywhere from 1 to 14 days after infection. Most people who catch COVID-19 make a full recovery within a few weeks.
However, a significant minority of people who fall ill from COVID-19 go on to experience long-term health deficits. This condition is often called “long COVID,” and those who suffer from it are known as “long haulers.” These people suffer from chronic COVID symptoms even though the virus itself is no longer detectable.
If you suffer from long COVID, it is important to do what you can to protect your health and minimize your symptoms. Later on in this blog, we will explore some tips for doing just that.
Current Research on Long COVID
It is not clear why long COVID develops. There is speculation that COVID-19 might trigger lasting changes to the immune system of certain persons, but more research needs to be done before definitive claims can be made. It is known that persons with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)—which, like COVID-19, are coronaviruses—can also suffer long-term complications affecting the respiratory, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems.
- According to one study, 35% of people who become infected with COVID-19 report experiencing symptoms 14-21 days after receiving a positive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.1
- Another study found that about 10% of COVID-19 victims experience prolonged symptoms at least 3 weeks after infection.2
- Still another study found that around 2% of persons with COVID-19 experience symptoms that last over 12 weeks.3
Because there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on this virus, long COVID remains something of a mystery at the present time. It is not possible to say how long it lasts. Nonetheless, it is clear that persons suffering from COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms can take steps to relieve their suffering.
Common Long COVID Symptoms
People suffering from long COVID can experience one or more of a wide array of symptoms. These symptoms can fluctuate significantly and unpredictably from one day to the next. Many sufferers report that their symptoms typically wax and wane over the course of the day.
The most frequently occurring long COVID symptoms are the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Joint pain
Other symptoms can arise as well, including but not limited to:
- Muscle pains
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fever (intermittent)
- Loss of taste
- Loss of smell
- Skin rashes
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory lapses
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”)
- Hair loss
Long COVID can also cause damage to organ systems of the body. These complications, which are relatively uncommon, can include heart inflammation, scarred lungs, injury to the kidney, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Oddly, some long COVID sufferers report that their lingering symptoms are very different from those they experienced during their original infection period. For example, they may begin experiencing chronic headaches only weeks or months after they came down with COVID-19.
Are these complications permanent in nature? It’s impossible to say at the present time. As COVID-19 was unknown prior to late 2019, there is little data on its possible long-term effects.
Who Is at Risk for Long COVID?
One study has found that people who experienced more than 5 of the recognized COVID-19 symptoms during their first week of sickness were more likely to develop long COVID. The study also found that people with at least one of the following characteristics were at increased risk for long COVID:
- Old age
- High BMI (body mass index)
- Female gender
The study was based on 4,182 COVID-19 patients who logged their symptoms in a specialized app.4
Although serious long-term COVID-19 complications are more likely to afflict older persons and those with compromised immune systems, even young, healthy people can experience these chronic issues.
In some cases, serious long-term complications arise in individuals whose initial COVID-19 symptoms were mild in nature. In fact, some reports claim that the majority of people who experience these complications were never hospitalized during their initial COVID illness. For some people, these lingering symptoms go on for literally months.
Treatment Options for Long COVID
What can be done for people suffering from long COVID? Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet” that can remove the troublesome symptoms associated with this illness. You cannot simply take a pill or a vitamin to free yourself from long COVID. That does not mean nothing can be done for long COVID sufferers, however.
If you are experiencing lingering symptoms of long COVID, here are some suggestions that may improve your condition. Following these tips will not ensure a full recovery, but doing so should bolster your overall health. That is an important part of managing long COVID.
Maintain healthy lifestyle habits – People who are ill have a tendency to neglect their health, which can easily make matters worse for them. If you’re suffering from long COVID, you can’t afford to do this. Try to get a good night’s sleep and avoid stress. Those are good suggestions even for healthy people, but for those with long COVID, they’re especially important to avoid aggravating your symptoms.
Eat right – It’s important to be mindful of what you eat. Because many long COVID victims lose their sense of taste, it’s easy for them to neglect healthy eating habits.
Get some exercise – Try to go for a walk or engage in another type of light exercise. Don’t push yourself too hard—many people with long COVID find it difficult to resume their pre-illness level of activity.
Keep your doctor informed – Long COVID symptoms often come and go without warning. It can be difficult to predict how you’ll be feeling from one day to the next. If you’re having a particularly rough time, don’t hesitate to give your doctor a call.
Take vitamins – Vitamins and other healthy supplements will boost your immune system and give your body the tools needed to battle your ailments. There are several vitamins that are widely believed to provide a measure of protection against COVID-19.
Before taking any new vitamins or supplements, consult with your doctor first.
- Vitamin D – Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recommends vitamin D supplementation as a means of increasing immune function and reducing your vulnerability to infection.5 People who are deficient in this fat-soluble vitamin seem to be more susceptible to COVID-19 and the various symptoms that stem from it. What isn’t clear is whether taking large doses of vitamin D confers extra protection against the effects of COVID-19.
- Vitamin C – Another Fauci-recommended vitamin, vitamin C is known to have wide ranging antioxidant and immune-boosting benefits. This water-soluble vitamin is commonly used by people who want to avoid getting sick during the flu season, as it promotes a healthy immune system. It may help with COVID-19 as well. Fauci recommends taking “a gram or so” of vitamin C.
- Zinc – Zinc is known to reduce the incidence of viral replication, and it is believed to stop COVID-19 from infecting Taking up to 40 mg of a zinc supplement per day is recommended.
Other supplements, such as vitamins A and K, are believed to play a significant role in managing or preventing COVID-19 as well.
You can find a wide assortment of vitamins for COVID 19 recovery at Forrest Health, one of the leading providers of health supplements, herbal remedies, and homeopathic medicines in the United States since 1987. To learn more, please explore our product catalog at ForrestHealth.com.