According to the King's College COVID symptom study app, one in ten people who have had COVID-19 will go on to suffer from long lasting effects of the virus. In this blog we look at the theories behind Long COVID.
While for many people COVID 19 can be a short and even mild illness, there is a growing minority of people who are taking a longer time to recover. Some of these people are still experiencing symptoms six, seven or eight months down the line. These people are suffering from what is now known as ‘Long COVID’.
There is no singular definition of Long COVID. Sufferers report a constellation of wide-ranging symptoms including breathlessness, headaches, conjunctivitis, sore throat, gastric problems, neurological problems, dry eyes, insomnia, depression, skin rashes, chest pain and heart problems. However, the most common symptom seems to be debilitating fatigue.
Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, scientific research has not yet been able to definitively say what Long COVID is, but there are various theories about what is caused by. According to the most recent research, it could be caused by one or a combination of the following:
- Damage to the organs such as the heart, lungs and liver, caused by the initial infection.
- Post viral fatigue syndrome - some viruses can make people very ill for a long time after the initial infection has subsided.
- Post intensive care syndrome - when the body has suffered from permanent damage as a result of being ventilated or in a coma.
- Continuing COVID-19 symptoms - when sufferers are ‘relapsing’ and the virus appears to reactivate within their body.
- Chronic inflammation within the body.
- Autoimmune response - when the overactive response has not calmed down after the initial infection and the body starts to attack itself.
How can you look after yourself if you have Long COVID?
- Rest. Post viral fatigue can go on for many months. It is important during this time not to push yourself back to your previous levels of activity as this could cause a relapse.
- Plan, Pace and Prioritise activities. There is an excellent video here by the RICOVR unit at the AWRC to support people who are struggling with fatigue.
- Get support. It can be difficult for friends and family to understand what it is like to have Long COVID and so lean on the support of others. There are many online Facebook groups such as this, where you can swap tips and receive support from other sufferers.
- Speak to your GP - it is important to rule out any other conditions that might be causing your symptoms. Give your GP a factual account and timeline of your symptoms. Ask them if there is a Long COVID clinic in your area that you can get a referral to.
- Support yourself naturally - ensure that you get enough sleep, eat a nutritious diet containing plenty of whole foods and investigate dietary supplements with the support of your doctor or a naturopath. Switch your skincare to non-irritating natural alternatives to manage any skin problems associated with the condition.
Recommended products for people experiencing Long COVID:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Intensive Hand Cream
with shea butter and sea buckthorn oil
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.