Covid-19 after effects

Covid-19 does not merely cause an acute illness which then (hopefully) fades and disappears. There is increasing evidence that it leads to long term symptoms. Since the people developing Covid-19 are now younger, 20-50 years of age, there have been fewer deaths. However, chronic symptoms which may linger for many months are more commonly seen.

Symptoms can persist longer than the usual 2 weeks. The initial symptoms of fever, cough and loss of sense of smell and taste subside to be replaced by others.

Three quarters of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 suffer long term symptoms such as breathlessness, excessive fatigue, ‘brain fog’. muscle aches and psychological changes.

People suffer from a diminished quality of life with difficulties in carrying out what most of us would consider to be normal activities – walking, working, household jobs and the like.

Anxiety, depression, poor memory and concentration are common symptoms of the prolonged version of Covid-19. It is often the case when our energy is depleted that our emotions and thoughts can overtake us or overwhelm us.

And it is not just those who have been in hospital. There are increasing reports of others who are suffering the same lingering patterns of symptoms.

Such symptoms are more likely after Covid-19 than other upper respiratory tract infection can affect up to 10% of people.

Who is more likely to develop such lingering symptoms? Those with –

  • weakened immune systems – this may be related to age
  • pre-existing illnesses
  • use of prescribed medications which suppress the immune system such as corticosteroids
  • being overweight
  • ethnic minorities – due to social inequalities, not to any inherent genetic differences

So, the acute symptoms of fever, continuous cough, aches and pains, loss of sense of taste and smell are replaced by these more long lasting symptoms. Now, we are in the realm of a post-viral syndrome, sometimes called chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis) depending on the precise symptoms. These conditions are very difficult to diagnose and treat with conventional medicine. There are many methods available though which can improve people’s health.

How to aid recovery

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, it is important to treat the acute attack. For those suffering long term symptoms, it is why treatment is important to recover our energy. When our energy is strong and healthy, our psychological states are more in control. We may still have certain feelings and thoughts but they are less likely to take us over.

The key factors in having a strong immune system are mainly to do with the strength of Lung and digestive energy. These are directly supported by Kidney energy which is an important basis for our entire health. Our Kidney energy tends to diminish as we get older and is one of the reasons why illness becomes more common with increasing age. In China, people spend time in the parks practising Qi Gong and Tai Chi which are excellent methods of supporting our energy and also directly keeping Kidney energy strong. Yoga would also be very beneficial in this regard.

Focus on

  • Healthy diet
  • Breathing exercises
  • Relaxation exercise (this is taken from my book, The Chinese Way to Health)

This is a simple method of breathing in a relaxed manner and using the whole of the lungs. It is known as abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing and is associated with relaxation.

When we are tense, we breathe using our upper chest. Bringing the breath down into the abdomen makes our breathing more efficient and releases deeply held tensions.

Either sit in a comfortable position with a relaxed posture or lie down in a comfortable and warm place.

Gently close your eyes or have them slightly open and softly focused a short distance in front of you.

As you breathe in, let your abdomen expand and your chest remain still. In this way, the diaphragm moves down, the lungs expand and air is drawn into them.

As you breathe out, let your abdomen move in so that air is expelled from your lungs.

You may find it helpful to have a hand on your upper chest and abdomen. This is useful as you begin, to help you keep the chest stable and for breathing to take place in the abdomen.

Later on, as it becomes more natural you will find you can merely have your hands relaxed in your lap or resting by your side.

There is no prescribed time that which you need to keep to when practising relaxation. It is better to do daily if you can. In the morning before the day gets too busy is always to be preferred. So, you could start with just 5 minutes, better to do 5 than not do 20!

Mental health support

During this time of Covid-19, we have all been experiencing times of isolation and loneliness. These are powerful causes of ill health and are some of the most destructive things anyone can endure. They frequently lead to low energy and exhaustion.

Isolation, separation and loneliness lead to anxiety and depression and so recovery towards good health is made more difficult. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness can undermine and make negative feelings appear much stronger. These feelings can take a long time to resolve and support is crucial.

Spending time with family and friends and receiving their support is an important step towards recovery. Of course, appropriate health care is essential in this respect.

What is appropriate health care? I find that a combination of self help through strengthening exercises such as relaxation and Qi Gong, as well as Chinese herbal medicines help us to regain our self confidence. We can then appreciate how we can regain physical and emotional strength and stability. A rounded view of how we can become well again is our best way forward.

If you wish to discuss this further or talk to me about herbal formulae, please contact me here. I am available for video/phone consultations during this pandemic.

This article is for your general information only.

Nothing in this article contradicts the current advice of government health care agencies. It is important to follow such advice as a means of minimising exposure to the Covid-19 virus.

Please discuss any concerns you have about your health and how to support it with your health care practitioner.

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    Bandon, Co. Cork
    Republic of Ireland

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