COVID19 has taken a toll on everyone in many different ways. For those who had COVID19, around 10% can still have symptoms that last weeks or months after “recovery”. Those with lasting symptoms beyond 2-3 weeks after contracting the virus are called “long haulers” or experience post-acute COVID19. Long Haulers come from any demographic. It appears to affect the old and the young. Those with minimal medical history and those with multiple chronic illnesses. Those who experienced mild COVID19 symptoms and those who were hospitalized.
Long Haulers experience a variety of symptoms. For some, symptoms are different than their original ones. Symptoms may include coughing, fatigue, body ache, shortness of breath, GI upset, loss of taste/smell, headache, brain fog or difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, or just generally not feeling like themselves.
Like everything associated with COVID19, there is still a lot of unknowns. And research is developing to find more about COVID19 and its post-acute symptoms. This includes why some people continue to have symptoms after “recovery”, and why such a diverse group is affected. However, it looks hopeful that many patients will recover. The most effective approach is a holistic one of support, rest, treatment, and gradual increase in activity.
Management Steps to Start Feeling Like Yourself Again:
- See Your Primary Care Physician: Your primary will help facilitate your recovery by checking and monitoring your symptoms, managing any of your diseases/disorders, and connect you with the right resources.
- Attend to General Health: Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and limit or eliminate alcohol and smoking.
- Management of Mental and Emotional Health: Many have lost loved ones, jobs, experienced traumatic stress from hospitalization/illness, as well as stress from isolation and quarantine. It is important to recognize this and to reach out to friends/family or professionals in mental health to address these stressors and learn how to manage them.
- Gradually Increase Exercise. Walking is always a great way to steadily increase activity, either outdoors or in the home. Monitor your progress by using the Borg Scale as well as a personal pulse oximeter which monitors oxygen in the blood. A guide to returning to exercise is that exertion/fatigue should stay at moderate levels, and oxygen should be 96% or above at all times. Pacing yourself adequately and returning to previous activity levels can be tricky when managing multiple symptoms.
- Set Achievable Goals: Start with easy, simple goals that are achievable and can be performed almost every day. As you reach a goal, set another so you can keep moving forward!
If you are struggling to recover from COVID-19, solutions are closer than you think. Your physician can partner with a physical therapist to help monitor your symptoms and progress. This is especially important if you have or recently acquired heart, lung, or other chronic disorders. The Physical Therapists at Action Potential are experts in returning you to feeling like your old self. Contact a local top-rated physical therapist today to find solutions,