Long Covid and Post viral fatigue
We’re still in the midst of winter, and colds and flu are the order of the day in colder weather. If we support our immune system well, most people should recover from respiratory illness within a week or so. But what happens when fatigue sets in and is still present weeks or even months after the initial illness?
In the last 2 years, many people have become so debilitated that they are too unwell to return to work following a viral infection. Unfortunately, the workforce can often be the worst place to be. Prolonged symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, headache, skin issues, hair loss, poor vision, aches and pains, poor sleep, chest tightness, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, anxiety/depression and loss of taste or smell. Because many of these symptoms aren’t visible, others are often quick to dismiss them and the person is told to “just get on with it.”
Risk factors for Post viral fatigue:
Any inflammatory condition or immune dysregulation can predispose the likelihood of Post viral fatigue. These include:
· Other co-morbidities: heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, obesity.
· Prior exposure to other viruses: shingles, glandular fever (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), hepatitis (B, C, A), HIV.
· Having an auto-immune condition: Coeliac, RA, Hashimoto’s, MS, etc.
· Prior psychiatric disorders: depression, OCD, schizophrenia, etc.
· Chronic stress: This drives inflammation and fatigue.
· Certain medications: anti-depressants, anti-histamines, pain killers, immune modulating drugs.
Addressing the underlying drivers:
From a naturopathic perspective, we need to help manage your symptoms, but also to identify what the underlying causes are. If we work on the root causes occurring at a cellular level, then recovery may occur. This may involve blood testing based on your presenting symptoms.
You may have already had tests and was told that everything looks normal. But your body doesn’t lie and deeper investigation may be required. It’s my job to play detective and keep searching for the answers.
Once we identify the underlying issues, my care for you will include addressing diet, helpful lifestyle measures, as well as supportive herbs and nutrients. This can be a slow process, particularly when you are feeling fatigued and overwhelmed. But with
What can I do to support my recovery?
Self-care is one of the foundations of Long Covid recovery. Here are a few diet and lifestyle suggestions to get you started.
· If you are back at work, you are best to cut your hours back if possible and work from home.
· Take an afternoon nap for 1-2 hours. Set an alarm, so you don’t over sleep. Aim to get 8-9 hours sleep every night.
· Stress management: it is vital to take time out to close your eyes and do some breath-work every day. Try a meditation app or relaxing instrumental music. Lie down and breathe deeply for 10 minutes at least 1-2 times daily.
· Gentle movement builds immune resilience. This may be walking to the front gate and back, or to the street corner and back; building up gradually as strength returns.
· Hydration: to support your recovery. Aim for at least 2.5 litres each day.
· Foods to add include:
*Polyphenols such as green tea, eggplant, berries and pomegranate. These foods help to make short chain fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and keep the colon healthy.
*Prebiotic foods: raw vegetables, sauerkraut or kimchi, oats, nuts, linseeds, leafy green vegetables to help support beneficial bacteria numbers in the gut. This will help to increase immune resilience.
Phytomedicine: Supervised treatment can address the underlying causes. However, some may interact with medications, so see your practitioner for further advice before self- prescribing.
· Medicinal mushrooms may help support immune function
· Lemon balm tea can support poor sleep and digestive complaints
· Turmeric, resveratrol to address inflammation
· Bacopa and gingko to support memory
· Motherwort and hawthorn to support heart health
Need more support? I can help. Contact me and let’s chat about how naturopathy can help you.