Over 3 million people in the United States have contracted COVID since the pandemic’s beginning. While some individuals experience mild or non-existent symptoms, others haven’t been so fortunate as the outcome has been severe hospitalization or, sadly, death.
But now, we are seeing that the initial virus symptoms aren’t the only thing we have to worry about when it comes to contracting COVID.
Don’t think you are in the clear of covid’s wrath, even if you just had a simple sore throat or cough or finally made it through the initial recovery phase.
We are seeing an uptick in individuals experiencing recurring or new symptoms even after they have recovered, making it extremely difficult to live their lives. This has been termed “long covid” or also known as post acute sequelae of SARS COV-2 infection (PASC).
Maybe you’re aware of long covid and have been struggling with it personally for months. You’re afraid of suffering from long covid forever. But I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. There is hope for you and you can recover and feel like yourself again. However, it requires you to take action and place more power over your own health into your own hands.
What are typical long covid symptoms?
If you’ve been experiencing any of the following and previously contracted the covid virus, long covid could be to blame.
Common Symptoms of Long COVID
- Chronic fatigue
- Severe or recurring
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Joint and muscle pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Cognitive impairment or brain fog
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood disorders (anxiety and depression)
Treatment Tips for Long Covid
Before we hop in the 5 tips to beat long covid, it’s important to understand that each case of Long COVID Syndrome has different precursors. Not all long-haulers will have the same outcomes with the same treatments.
However, these 5 treatment tips for Long Covid can help the majority of individuals optimize their health and get their bodies back into a state of balance and functioning to feel better again and get their life back to normal.
Eat An Anti Inflammatory Diet
Inflammation is one of the driving forces behind many of the long covid symptoms. It’s vital to eliminate fried foods, inflammatory oils, excess sugars, and processed foods since they all promote excessive inflammation within the body, and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to recover.
Instead of relying on processed meals, focus on consuming whole real foods to give your body the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to heal. Focus on eating an abundance of plant-based meals that include vegetables, fruits, quinoa, and legumes can help reduce inflammation and reduce your symptoms.
Prioritize Sleep And Get Enough Rest
If you are struggling from long covid, you need to prioritize bedtime and sleep. Pushing yourself too hard and ignoring your body’s signs to slow down can make recovery take much longer and even prevent your body from healing. Sleep deprivation can cause inflammation and weakened immune systems, and inadequate healing.
When you sleep, your body removes damaged cells and restores itself. If you don’t let your body get adequate sleep, you could stall the healing process.
Aim to get at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night. To help your body wind down, set up a nighttime routine, whether that’s an Epsom salt bath, yoga, reading a book, turning on salt rock lamps instead of overhead lights, and/or avoiding electronics and blue light for an hour or two before bed.
Exercise To Reduce Joint And Muscle Pain
Exercise might be the last thing you want to do when dealing with long covid symptoms, but I’m not just talking about running or HIIT workouts. I’m talking about incorporating yoga, tai chi, or simply stretching into your routine to help with long covid joint and muscle pain.
By doing so, these exercises can help inhibit inflammation and reduce your daily joint pain. Exercising can stimulate your immune system by encouraging mitochondrial adaptations, cell generation, and immune regulation.
Manage Stress And Boost Your Mood
When your body senses or perceives stress, it goes into alert or survival mode. When it’s in the sympathetic state, your body goes into defense mode rather than spend its energy on healing and optimal functioning. The covid virus and stress can contribute to your body getting stuck in this “fight or flight” state.
It’s vital to learn how to cope with stressful days and overwhelming thoughts with stress management tools and practices like 4-7-8 breathing exercises, mindset work, journaling, setting boundaries, and prioritizing more self-care time.
When you learn to calm your nervous system, you can transition your body from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state (aka rest + digest”) to encourage healing from long covid.
Supplements for Long COVID
COVID virus targets pneumocyte cells, leading to decreased surfactant levels that produce surfactant, a soapy chemical that protects against acute respiratory distress syndrome. Vitamin D supplementation reportedly helps reduce the destruction of pneumocytes and stimulates surfactant production, preventing severe lung injuries.
COVID can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome, but research on specific probiotic strains that can best restore balance following the syndrome’s particular damage is in its infancy. Eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, can help fortify and support the gut’s microbiome. And in the event of ongoing gut disturbances, working with a functional medicine provider to design a well-rounded prebiotic and probiotic protocol can help bring the microbiome back into balance.
Quercetin is the most abundant dietary flavonoid and has been linked to reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Plus, it may have brain-protective, anti-allergy, and anticancer properties. It is reported to be effective in the treatment and prophylaxis of other SARS-like coronavirus infections, as a strong antioxidant and scavenger flavonoid without any adverse events. Consider taking quercetin (along with vitamin C and bromelain for enhanced absorption) for treatment of COVID-19 cases.
NAC is an amino acid that the body uses to create glutathione, the body’s master detoxifier. Eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, and cabbage), as well as avocado, okra, spinach, and alliums, can help bolster levels of glutathione, as can supplementing with NAC. Studies show how this supplement can be effective in covid treatment plans.
Vitamin C is vital for proper immune cell functioning. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that protects your body from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Research suggests that supplementing with high dose vitamin C daily can help with long covid symptoms. There are capsules or powders that can help you get in this elevated levels of vitamin C to see benefits.
Join a Long Covid Research Study
As this is still a new virus, there are still many unknowns how exactly what this means for us long-term. That’s why ongoing research is extremely vital to continuing to bring more answers and value to COVID treatment plans. There is a current long covid study you can join that’s going on at University of Arizona down in Tucson for people who are struggling with long covid. It’s called RECOVER: Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery.
Dr. Dersam specializes in finding the root cause of illnesses by combining integrative, functional, and traditional modalities to help individuals struggling with long covid, get their life back.
Dr. Dersam uses integrative and functional approaches, including diet, testing, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations, to investigate what exactly is contributing to your long covid symptoms and inhibiting your body from healing.
Book your consultation today, or contact our office at 480-621-8638 to schedule your first consultation with Dr. Dersam to finally get true solutions to overcome your symptoms and feel like yourself again!
Cheri Dersam, MD
Dr. Dersam is board certified in both Integrative and Emergency Medicine and fellowship trained in Functional Medicine. Dr. Dersam focuses on a personalized approach that empowers each patient to achieve optimal health in mind, body and spirit.