Long-COVID Syndrome (also known as post-COVID or long-haul COVID) describes a wide range of new or persisting symptoms that COVID-19 sufferers experience after infection with COVID-19. Commonly reported symptoms of Long-COVID Syndrome include fatigue, difficulty thinking, prolonged cough or shortness of breath.
The fatigue of Long-COVID Syndrome can be particularly difficult to manage. Often described as a lack of energy or motivation, fatigue can have profound impact on one’s life resulting in the following:
- An inability to carry out normal daily tasks
- Chronic tiredness or sleepiness
- Sore or achy muscles
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced immune system function
- Blurry vision
- Poor concentration
- Worsening fatigue or other symptoms after physical activity
Causes of Long-COVID fatigue
There are many theories about the causes of Long-COVID Syndrome and the resulting fatigue. Unfortunately, researchers still do not have concrete answers. What we do know is that about 30% of the people infected with the COVID-19 infection worldwide have gone on to develop long COVID symptoms that last weeks or months—long after the virus clears from the body. A study that looked at 143 people who had severe COVID-19 found that 87% of the participants still had ongoing fatigue two months after they were initially admitted to the hospital. However, it’s important to note that developing long-COVID syndrome does not depend on the severity of your original infection. Long-COVID syndrome presents in people who have had asymptomatic to severe cases. In essence, long-COVID fatigue is common and widespread.
Diagnosis of Long-COVID fatigue
Your initial diagnosis of Long-COVID syndrome may have taken weeks or months to be identified Unfortunately, many have struggled to find a practitioner that understands how to evaluate and diagnose a patient with a diagnosis of Long-COVID syndrome or post-COVID fatigue.
At the Kaplan Center, we will take time to explore the onset of your condition. During your visit, our providers will take a thorough history and ask you about the fatigue, its effect on your day-to-day life, your past medical history and other core elements of your overall health.
When diagnosing a patient, we will also evaluate for a dysregulation of the immune system due to the COVID spike protein using a blood test.
This may involve exploring possible exposure to toxins or heavy metals. Additionally, we may ask questions about how well your gastrointestinal system is functioning. All of this information will give us a better understanding of your overall health before, during and after COVID-19.
Other tests that may be carried out:
- Blood tests – this includes looking for certain biomarkers or elements within the blood that may reflect any dysfunction of the immune system.
- An evaluation of minerals and vitamins – to look for low levels of these nutrients.
- Digestive tests – to help determine if there are pre-existing digestive issues.
This combination of medical history, physical examination and diagnostic tests will guide our diagnosis and help us put together a comprehensive treatment plan.
Managing Long-COVID fatigue
The complexity of fatigue, even without the presence of COVID-19 makes it a difficult condition for traditional medicine to address. Fatigue is a multifactorial condition. It can affect our physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. Taking an integrative approach to medicine, we consider treatment options that help to address all of these issues.
Depending on the results of that discussion we may suggest treatment options that include:
- Nutrition – Dietary changes to improve your gut function
- Psychotherapy, EMDR
- Sleep Evaluation & Management
- Guided Meditation
- Physical Therapy
- Stress management
Managing long-COVID fatigue is something that our team can help with. Using a holistic approach, we listen to and work with our patients to come up with management plans that are tailored to their needs. Post-covid fatigue is a condition that should be addressed on multiple fronts and our goal is to help our patients do just that.
If you are experiencing symptoms beyond six weeks of being diagnosed with COVID-19, our Long-COVID Recovery Program may be suitable for you.