What is long Covid? Is it contagious? What can you do to alleviate symptoms if you suffer from it? We have a look at all of that and more in this article.
What is long Covid?
Long Covid describes anyone with Covid who have symptoms beyond three to four weeks. In other words, you have symptoms after your body has fought off the virus.
Long Covid is also known as chronic Covid syndrome (CCS) and long-haul Covid.
What are the symptoms of long Covid?
After apparently recovering from Covid, long Covid sufferers may experience fatigue, muscle weakness, anosmia (loss of smell), low fever, headaches, brain fog, or shortness of breath. A study in Sweden also found that children with long Covid experienced fatigue, dyspnoea, heart palpitations, and chest pain.
Who gets long Covid?
Anyone who gets infected with Covid might get long Covid; whether they are young or old or have severe or light symptoms. However, it’s more common among those who have severe symptoms. About 10-30% of people with Covid are estimated to get long Covid.
Those hospitalised with Covid may also experience post-intensive care syndrome—as can anyone who has been hospitalised in the intensive care unit.
Is long Covid contagious?
No, it’s not. It’s your body dealing with the after-effects of Covid, not with the virus itself.
How to cope with long Covid
If you have long Covid, don’t panic. Always ask for medical advice but know that in most instances, your body will recover. It just takes longer—up to six months.
Here are some tips for coping with long Covid:
- Take frequent breaks when doing something mentally or physically demanding
- Take naps throughout the day, as needed
- Find out when during the day you have the most energy and do the most demanding tasks then
- Don’t take on too much, too soon—build up your resilience
- Keep at it—you need to start exercising again to build up your strength, you just have to have patience to take it slow
- Eat well and stay hydrated—you can always try the anti-inflammatory diet
- If using a walking stick, or frame, lean forward if you run out of breath
- Be kind to yourself—your brain fog and physical weakness won’t last forever, so take it easy
- Stretches and strength exercises can help relieve muscle pains
It’s important you remain in touch with friends and family, set time aside to enjoy yourself, and keep a positive attitude. No matter how frustrating it seems now, you will come out of this.
Talk to your doctor
If your lungs, heart, or veins were impaired due to Covid, you might have some long-term side effects that need to be dealt with appropriately. It’s therefore essential to follow up with your doctor if you suffer from long Covid. For example, you may need oxygen at night, or even during the day if your lungs got scarred from the infection.
Isolate for a little while longer
While you will no longer be contagious, going out too soon might make you vulnerable to other diseases. Know that your body is still recovering. Therefore, while seeing friends is great, do so outdoors, two meters apart at first. At this stage, while you may have some immunity to Covid, you can still get reinfected. You can also end up getting a cold, or sore throat, or the regular flu. The last thing your body needs right now is another disease to battle.
In short, take it slow and use precaution. Don’t lock yourself away but be smart about how and with whom you socialise.
If you have any chronic illnesses, see your doctor
As you won’t know exactly how Covid has affected your body, see your regular doctor about any chronic illnesses you may have. Medications may need to be adjusted, particularly for diabetes patients.
Do everything you can to support your health
Some tips for getting back to good health include:
- Moderate exercise—including strength building, flexibility and cardio—at a pace you can handle
- Eat well—try the anti-inflammatory diet
- Stay hydrated
- Spend time outdoors for at least half an hour a day
- Sleep enough, on regular hours—your immune system is dependent on sleep
- Take supplements to improve your health—you may want to try some immune boosters, as well as omega-3 fish oil, probiotics and multivitamins (chances are you don’t need one a day, but a couple a week)
- Chat to a herbalist about other potential herbs to support your health and make sure to double-check with your doctor before taking any
- Do breathing exercises to increase your lung capacity
- Socialise—longevity and happiness go hand in hand and socialising forms part of that
- Try mindfulness practices to reduce stress
- Be grateful for the good in your life and keep creating more—mind over matter is an important factor in health and happiness, too
You’ve survived Covid. That’s the most crucial thing. While your recovery might take longer than anticipated and frustrate you, you know you’re on the right path. Keep going. Be kind to yourself and look forward to your recovery. Be sure to monitor it with a doctor and keep moving forward!