Long Covid

by Dr. Pavan Yadav

"Long COVID," also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to a range of symptoms that continue for weeks or months after the acute phase of COVID-19 infection has resolved. This condition can affect anyone who has had COVID-19, regardless of the severity of their initial illness.

Characteristics of Long COVID:

  1. Duration and Symptoms: Symptoms persist for weeks or months post-recovery. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, cognitive disturbances (often referred to as "brain fog"), joint pain, and more.
  2. Multi-system Involvement: Long COVID can affect various body systems, including pulmonary, cardiovascular, neurological, and psychological.
  3. Variability: Symptoms can vary widely in severity and combination, and may fluctuate or relapse over time.

Healthy Lifestyle and Long COVID Risk:

There's emerging evidence suggesting that certain lifestyle factors may influence the risk and severity of Long COVID:

  1. Physical Activity: Regular exercise may bolster immune response and reduce the severity of initial infection, potentially mitigating the risk of developing Long COVID.
  2. Diet: A balanced diet rich in nutrients can support overall immune function. Some studies suggest that diets high in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial.
  3. Stress Management: Chronic stress can impair immune function. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and adequate sleep may have a protective effect.
  4. Avoidance of Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can compromise immune function and respiratory health, potentially exacerbating COVID-19 and its long-term effects.

Lifestyle Modifications for Recovery:

  1. Gradual Increase in Activity: Pacing and gradually increasing activity levels can help manage symptoms like fatigue and muscle weakness.
  2. Balanced Diet: A nutrient-rich diet can support recovery and overall health.
  3. Mental Health Support: Counselling or therapy to address anxiety, depression, or PTSD, which are common in Long COVID sufferers.
  4. Pulmonary Rehabilitation: For those with respiratory symptoms, guided exercises can improve lung function and endurance.
  5. Cognitive Rehabilitation: For addressing 'brain fog' and cognitive issues.

Case study

62 year gentleman who had developed severe Covid 19 infection 2 years back had become oxygen dependent after discharge. Over a period of 2 years he is weaned off oxygen support as his lung condition slowly improved however he continues to have body aches, general feeling of fatigue, anxiety episodes and difficult to focus on work for long hours. With yoga, meditation and long counselling sessions he is slowly getting back to his routine and hopefully be fully back to his pre Covid time.