Post Covid-19 Long Haulers
by Fred Harvey, MD
It is hard to believe, but we have entered year two of the coronavirus pandemic, and the stories continue to circulate of people who experience symptoms well beyond the usual course of a viral illness. We have also seen this in other viral conditions such as the persistence of fatigue after Epstein-Barr virus infection, otherwise known as “mono.”
Some other examples of this include a weakened immune system after influenza, which results in secondary pneumonia, or the neuropathy after Herpes Zoster. Similarly, many people experience a range of symptoms in recovery period after the acute infection phase of coronavirus has passed. These “long haulers” might be susceptible to a variety of health issues.
The main symptoms, ranked by patient-led researchers from the most- to least- reported, are mild shortness of breath, mild tightness of chest, mild or moderate fatigue, chills or sweats, mild body aches, dry cough, elevated body temperature (98.8–100), mild headache, brain fog or concentration problems, and dizziness.
Neurologic symptoms are the most underreported in the media. “Long hauler” patients report that an average recovery time is 27 days, but if they have not recovered by day 50, the chance of recovery drops to less than 20 percent. Most of these patients are now sedentary, although they were physically active prior to the illness.
These individuals can probably trace their severe COVID-19 response to one of three causes: excess inflammation, compromised immunity and organ system dysfunction. However, to minimize the risk of these long-term issues, we can prepare the body ahead of infection with lifestyle and nutritional programs. To optimally support the immune system, adequate sleep (at least seven hours daily), consistent exercise, and water and nutrient intake are essential.
In addition, we can use vitamins, herbs and minerals in order to both enhance and protect metabolic functions and organ reserves. Some of these help to reduce inflammation, support the immune system and can repair organ dysfunction.
Once infected, other interventions can also be useful. Increased doses of the preventive programs like quercetin, astragalus, elderberry and Andrographis will help. In addition, nettle’s extract, resveratrol and melatonin can promote better response. Of course, increased doses of vitamin C and D, Zinc and B vitamins are also supportive.
Recent evidence suggests that Ivermectin could be of value as well. Conflicting reports in the literature have resulted in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) not recommending this protocol, but the Institute for Functional Medicine asserts that it could be helpful. These reports are always evolving, so please stay tuned for more information.
For more information on prevention and treatment protocols, contact Dr. Fred Harvey, MD, at [email protected]