Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recognizes symptoms of the post-COVID-19 syndrome. Individuals identified with this syndrome are those that have had COVID-19 and continue to experience symptoms for more than 12 weeks. Symptoms that last up to four weeks are considered acute COVID while symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks are considered long COVID. It is important to note that if you are personally experiencing symptoms like breathlessness or chest pains, seek medical help immediately.
Specialists can help alleviate isolated symptoms like brain fog, gut problems, or trouble sleeping. According to Dr. Toby Hillman, a respiratory and general medicine consultant, the key is to pace yourself during recovery.
The relapse of COVID symptoms is correlated with overexertion. Recovery from an acute infection may take time so it is important to be patient and kind to yourself. Practicing self-kindness meditations may help reduce negative feelings of anxiety and stress. In order for the body to recover, the mind needs to recover as well.
A large majority of patients with long COVID have low carbon dioxide levels. Respiratory therapists can help stabilize breathing and other symptoms through guided breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can help open up parts of the lung during recovery. Additionally, these exercises can help reduce stress. Other activities like singing and swimming are recommended to help diaphragmatic breathing.
COVID brain fog may impact concentration and memory. This may result in headaches, dizziness and fatigue. It is important to also remember to pace your brain. While there are no proven treatments yet for COVID-19 brain fog, maintaining hydration is essential. Dehydration can impair the brain’s ability to concentrate. Hydrating foods like cucumbers, melons, and vegetable juices are less likely to be flushed out of the system as water can be if caffeine intake is high.
We understand that suffering from an unexplained illness can be extremely distressing and terrifying. Sudden changes in heart rate due to COVID may cause intense emotions. Ways to manage intense emotions like fear and anger can be shifted towards equilibrium state through meditation. Studies have shown that meditation is correlated with a reduction in symptoms of trauma, anxiety, and depression.
Sleep is vital during the recovery process. Sleeping difficulty occurs when you have trouble falling asleep at night. Sleep difficulty can have physical and mental implications. Signs of sleep difficulty may include inability to focus in the daytime, headaches, irritability, fatigue, taking several hours to fall asleep or waking up too early, or waking up throughout the night. Good sleeping habits are key to getting a good night's rest. For instance, keeping a consistent sleeping schedule, avoiding electronic devices before bed, avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bed and listening to calm music can help aid sleep. Keeping the bedroom dark and cool is the ideal sleeping environment for the human body.
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“Healthy Sleep.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 May 2021, medlineplus.gov/healthysleep.html.
Newman, Rebecca. “How to Live with Long Covid.” Financial Times, 5 May 2021, www.ft.com/content/7b3da22f-d08e-4d69-aa23-98e20afe75ae.