Many people are experiencing health problems long after having been infected with COVID19. The official medical term is post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC). Common terms include “long haulers,” post-COVID syndrome, long COVID, or long-term COVID, Francis Collins, the National Institutes of Health Director, noted that millions of Americans could have chronic health problems, even those with COVID-10 infections.
It is estimated that about 10% of people who get COVID may have long haulers.
While the mechanisms of long haulers are still being researched, it makes sense that chronic inflammation and immune system dysfunction affect various parts of the body.
Long haulers can affect most systems of the body, including the heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain.
The two most common symptoms that long haulers patients have reported to me is fatigue and cognitive problems (brain fog). However, there are many lasting symptoms people can have that include:
loss of smell or taste
dizziness on standing
shortness of breath
symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
I have had some patients report heart palpitations and chest pain. These patients are then screened for cardiovascular and lung disease. Research has shown that a high percentage of people recovering from COVID-19 have chronic heart inflammation.
To complicate the issue, there are concerns of heart inflammation (myocarditis and pericarditis) in adolescents and young adults who have received the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC states these reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are rare given the many doses of vaccine doses administered. The condition is more likely to occur in young men and teen boys. The CDC plans to add a warning to the fact sheets for the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
Medical centers are starting to organize COVID-19 clinics to help people with long haulers.
However, the limitation of this approach is that integrative and nutritional therapies are not likely to be an emphasis with their treatment.
I have found the integrative and functional medicine approach to be beneficial for patients with long haulers. Key therapies have included intravenous ozone and nutrient therapy to help restore energy levels and to reduce inflammation. Also, an anti-inflammatory diet is critical. One diet I often recommend is my Modified Mediterranean Diet, which includes the traditional Mediterranean Diet with restrictions on grains and dairy.
In addition, nutritional supplements that help restore energy levels and naturally reduce inflammation are essential.
For patients experiencing anxiety from long haulers and are not on anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication, I often recommend our Relax Eze at a dose of one scoop twice daily. It is important that people with long haulers who are experiencing anxiety and depression consult with a counselor or healthcare professional to aid in recovery.
Healthcare specialists can and should be used to evaluate and rule out serious organ disease. However, I believe the best treatment comes from holistic and functional medicine approaches to re-establish health.
CDC to Issue Guidelines As Long-Haul COVID Numbers Rise. WebMD.
numbers-rise. Published 2021.
COVID-19 Vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/myocarditis.html. Published 2021.
Chung T. COVID ‘Long Haulers’: Long-Term Effects of COVID-19. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
haulers-long-term-effects-of-covid19. Published 2021.