Long Covid - the unwanted legacy
Who's symptoms have lingered a little too long after their Covid infection?
Let's talk about Long Covid...
After any viral infection, our body takes time to recover. It is not unusual for people to be more fatigued and tired for a few weeks to months after. But when these symptoms persist for many months, then Covid is leaving a little bit of an unwanted legacy. And recovery is not always straightforward.
The most common symptom of Long Covid is extreme fatigue and tiredness that just won’t lift even after a good nights sleep. But there are other symptoms that just keep hanging around impacting quality of life:
Shortness of breath
Chest pain or tightness
Brain fog and problems with memory and concentration
Changes to taste and smell
Joint and muscle pain
Headaches and dizziness
Swollen lymph glands
Long Covid is not really a new phenomenon. In naturopathic circles we refer to this as a Post viral syndrome or persistent viral infection where, after a virus, a portion of patients affected go on to develop lingering symptoms that can persist for months and in some people, years. Epstein Barr virus (Glandular Fever) commonly causes this problem as does Ross River Fever. In its severity, some go on to develop a debilitating chronic fatigue like illness.
The good news is that there are things you can do to support your body after COVID or any virus.
The answer lies in the “Art of Convalescence” (otherwise known as the skill of giving yourself time to recover)
Historically convalescence was a distinct separate stage of aftercare and recovery from illness. It was taken for granted that any illness would require a period of recovery time after it had passed and without this time and space to recuperate, recurrence was probable. In fact with really debilitating disease, convalescence was done in a Sanatorium. Imagine!
Modern medicine, modern working life, and modern economics means we now would never consider taking time off for convalescence to recover. We get back to it as soon as we can, bouncing back even when we aren’t feeling bouncy. And because our body is not truly well and recovered, we are a little bit weaker and these symptoms persist. Long term this becomes more problematic and sets up a viscous repetitive cycle of a compromised immune system leading to further infections and weakening your natural resistance to illness.
Here are 4 ways you can give yourself and your body time and support to heal.
Sleep is when your body heals and repairs. After a virus you need lots of sleep and rest. Initially this may be sleeping constantly. After the initial stage it may be as much as possible such as taking a “Nanna Nap” or going to bed earlier at night.
Remember that rest doesn’t just mean sleep, it also means conserving energy. Less activity is better. Pace yourself by only doing what is necessary. As you begin to regain your energy increase your activity slowly (and even though you may think and feel you can run a marathon - you can’t).
Get moving, a little every day, building it up over time. If you exercise and then feel fatigue you have done too much. Keep the exercise gentle.
Nourish your body with foods that give the body the nutrients it needs to repair. It shouldn’t over stimulate (sugar, caffeine, alcohol) or impose demands (fried fatty foods or fast foods). Instead focus on an abundance of vegetables and fruit, a sprinkling of wholegrains, healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and oily fish and white meat or grass fed red meat. Nourishing broths and soups are a great option.
Rest, exercise and diet are not always sufficient enough to bring about recovery. This is where Naturopaths come in to facilitate the process and get recovery back on track. Herbal medicine and nutritional supplements have a long history of strengthening the immune system, supporting sleep and the stress response and improving energy after an illness.
If you would like to book in a consultation or a free 15 minute chat to discuss specific herbs and nutrients to support your Covid recovery you can at www.sagessehealth.as.me
Whenever we are unwell we need to give ourselves the time and space to heal. Listen to your body. When it say’s stop, relax. Sleep when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. And get additional support from your Naturopath. Healing needs time. Convalesce.
“A good convalescence is a marvellous thing. It rounds off an illness and gives it meaning, it makes the sufferer stronger for having had the illness. It is probably the only strategy that will allow real reach very from debilitating disease, fatigue syndromes, recurrent infections and states of compromised immunity…Convalescence needs time, one of the hardest commodities not to find”