This is a term we are encountering more frequently, from patients, friends, and family members.
What does it mean, and what can be done about it? These are the questions I get asked all the time now.
Most people agree that the definition of “Covid-19 Long Haul” is symptoms that last longer than a month or more after their illness. People who have had an asymptomatic course of the illness can also experience long hauler symptoms too.
The most common symptoms are significant, often debilitating fatigue, headache, exertional intolerance, poor sleep and often depression and anxiety. Some people have a persistent cough and shortness of breath or chest tightness. The condition looks very similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but there appear to be features unique to this virus.
And although we don’t fully understand all the mechanisms that may be involved in this condition, we do have an idea about some things that are contributing to this illness. There are ongoing immunological dysfunctions and subsequent mitochondrial deficits that seem to be at the crux of the condition. The mitochondria are the part of the cell that makes energy, so when they are affected, fatigue soon follows.
To address the underlying imbalances that are the cause of Covid-19 Long-Haulers’ symptoms, we need to address the immune system through gut health, proper support for the mitochondria and the immune system itself.
There are lifestyle based treatments, including the proper diet to support the health of our mitochondria, making sure we get adequate sleep and not overexercising. The body needs time and support to return to health and pushing too hard too soon will likely not be helpful.
There are also a number of helpful supplements that can be part of an overall functional medicine approach for someone dealing with Covid-19 long haul symptoms. A functional medicine approach is going to address the “upstream” issues, and not just the symptoms. It is necessary to address the underlying root causes to try to restore balance to the body.
We are here to help support you or your loved ones who may be experiencing the symptoms from a residual Covid-19 infection.