Recovering from an illness can be challenging, and the accepted rule of thumb is that the worse your illness has been, the longer and harder your recovery is likely to be. This seems to be holding true for patients of Covid-19, which has ravaged the U.S. since March 2020. While the common long-term effects of the illness are seen the most often, they are compounded by a range of secondary effects. At this moment it’s difficult to predict just what the future will look like for pandemic patients, who are being called “Covid long-haulers,” but, as time passes, we will piece together a clearer picture.
Here’s what we know so far, and what you can do to boost your immune system and support your recovery.
Common Residual Effects
The most common residual effects of Covid-19 include general fatigue, muscle pain, and reduced lung capability. That’s because the coronavirus is essentially a respiratory illness, which uses its crown-shaped “hooks” to attach to the lining of the nose and move down the windpipe to the lungs. Once there, the virus attacks the lungs’ tiny air sacs or alveoli, using the rich supply of ACE2 proteins contained in them to make copies of itself that go on to invade new cells. This process interferes with the transfer of oxygen to the lungs, resulting in lasting damage to the lung tissue.
Once the lungs are damaged, full recovery depends on the patient being able to regrow the tissues to restore full functionality. During the time it takes for this to happen, the lungs are unable to get enough oxygen for the body’s needs. This results in a lack of energy, tiredness, insufficient oxygen getting to the lungs, as well as to the muscles and the brain. Research reported in the Lancet Medical Journal shows more than three quarters (76%) of Covid-19 patients who were hospitalized were still showing these types of symptoms 6 months later.
Secondary Residual Effects
Fatigue and compromised lung function are unpleasant, but they are by no means the only long-term effects showing up. Diminished kidney function is another residual consequence, with 13% of the people who developed this having had normal kidney function when they were first admitted to hospital. Possibly some of the most troubling issues, however, are the neurological issues resulting from having a potentially life-threatening virus. These include:
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Unrelenting headaches
- Abnormal skin sensations
- Ongoing loss of smell and taste
- New or worse anxiety and depression.
Many of these complaints result in cognitive difficulties that affect the patients’ ability to go on with their lives. Whether the problem is lack of confidence in work or school, difficulty adjusting to new challenges, or lack of attention to their duties, their ability to function, multitask or learn new information is affected.
What Causes Long-Haul Symptoms
So, what is the reason why such a high percentage of patients are suffering from these ongoing problems? Researchers suspect they are caused by a combination of factors, such as ongoing issues from the initial infection, a strong immune response, the pandemic-level social isolation, and the stigma associated with the virus.
Patients who were hospitalized or had to stay in the intensive care unit are often aware of how narrowly they faced potential death. As a result, the Lancet study shows that 1 in 5 Covid-19 patients developed mental health problems such as dementia, anxiety, or depression within 3 months of their diagnosis.
It’s a known fact that some Covid-19 patients develop inflammation in their bodies that leads to acute infection. Even after this infection clears, the inflammation might continue to exist. This causes the patient’s immune system to keep on fighting, resulting in fatigue and other symptoms.
Scientists don’t yet know why some patients have long-term effects and others don’t, but researchers are working on trying to find out. Genetics, isolation, and abnormal immune and inflammatory responses might determine the patient’s risk for ongoing symptoms, but until we know more about who gets these effects and what the consequences are we won’t know for certain.
How to Address Long-Term Symptoms
What can you do in the meantime, either to reduce your risk for long-haul symptoms (whether you’ve had Covid-19 or not) or to treat them if you experience any of the issues listed above? It’s important to get any new conditions you experience checked out, so they can be treated symptomatically without delay.
Brain fog, dementia, anxiety, or depression, for example, all have sound treatment protocols that can help to reduce your suffering, regardless of why—or when—the problem started. Even if your condition is a result of having had Covid-19, it’s essential to both diagnose and address the specific issue directly.
If you’re experiencing reduced organ function such as lung/breathing problems or diminished kidney ability, you need to get urgent medical attention. Any of these issues could be caused by (or result in) cancer or other debilitating conditions. For general fatigue, muscle pain, and overall weakness, supplementing your daily nutrient intake with an immune booster and a lung health formula could give you the reinforcement your body needs without resorting to prescription drugs.
For relief from the long-term effects of Covid-19 try Dr. Garber’s Immune Boost formula, which stimulates your immune system without triggering an autoimmune reaction. After being in development for the past three years, we completed research and testing of this product just as Covid-19 gave rise to the need for it. Supplement ImmuneBoost with Dr. Garber’s Lung Health formula to strengthen and support your lungs during this vulnerable period.