Health & Ayurveda

Post-COVID Syndrome

Nearly 300 million people worldwide have had COVID-19. Most of people recover within a month, but some experience long-term symptoms called “the Post-COVID Syndrome” or “long COVID”, “long-haul COVID”, “post-acute COVID-19”, “long-term effects of COVID”, or “chronic COVID”, etс. These symptoms negatively affect the quality of life and scare people with the uncertainty of their future overall health.

In December 2020, the National Institute of Health proposed a new classification for conditions caused by the virus SARS-CoV2:

  • Acute COVID-19 is a short-term course of the disease that lasts no more than 4 weeks.
  • Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19 – symptoms that may last for 4-12 weeks.
  • Post- COVID syndrome – the so-called long COVID, when a person has been sick for more than 3 months.

Scientists are still studying the post-covid syndrome. And at the moment, it is known that the manifestations of the disease are individual and largely depend on the initial health state of the body. What is post-covid, why does it appear, what is it, and most importantly – how to cope with it?

Back in 2020 some reports noted that even people who had recovered from the disease, who no longer had the virus in their bodies could still have COVID symptoms and persisted for some time after. At that time scientists would think that they were simply out of luck. But later it turned out that this is a feature of the coronavirus – it leaves such destruction in the body that it takes a very long time to recover.

The reasons why the post-covid symptoms develop are not yet clear, but there are hypotheses. The virus could no longer be there, but it could leave behind something that continues to negatively affect the body. Pathogens sometimes act similar – the most famous analogue is whooping cough (pertussis) – it is a bacterial infection, which is also called the “100-day cough.” The bacteria itself dies rather quickly, but its toxin is an incredibly stable molecule that penetrates the brain, respiratory center and there finishes the pathological circle. It turns out that out brain is constantly receiving an impulse, that makes it think that we have a foreign body in our airways, which means that we need to cough it up. Moreover, this cough is not caused by anything other than a pathological circle that finishes its way in the brain, i.e. the cough comes from our head.

Something similar is happening with the post-covid symptom: the coronavirus could already be out of the body, but it could launch a whole complex of pathological cascades, which are associated among other things with a punch to the immune system and the coagulation system (since the virus infects almost all the microvascular system, therefore thrombosis after COVID is a common thing).

How long can it last? In medicinal practice, there is already a division: prolonged COVID, when the symptoms last from 4 to 12 weeks from the beginning of the clinical manifestation (up to 70% of cases), and post-covid syndrome, or long COVID, when the symptoms last beyond 12 weeks (up to 25% of cases). Moreover, 12 weeks is the minimum border, and the maximum border is not known yet. There are no researches made yet to show how long this syndrome can last.

What are the manifestations of post-COVID? There is a post-COVID symptom complex which has a lot of different manifestations, up to 70 symptoms, which in some researches were monitored for up to 7 months (this was the observation period). All studies show that the symptoms are almost the same: severe weakness (77.7% of patients), decreased exercise tolerance (72.2%) and cognitive impairment, low brain activity (“brain fog”) – 55, 4%. It is impossible to name a single organ or system, even including hair that does not suffer from post-COVID. Hair loss is one of the common symptoms of post- COVID syndrome.

People commonly report experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise)
  • Difficulty in thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Dizziness while standing up (lightheadedness)
  • Rash
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in the sense of smell or taste
  • Changes in menstrual period cycles

What is “brain fog, how are cognitive impairments can be manifested? The group of symptoms called “cognitive impairment” and “brain fog” include: anxiety, mood swings, memory deterioration, difficulties in thinking or concentrating. At the same time, the person feels disassociated from the self, as if watching themselves from a third person perspective.

Also the mood can be drastically affected to the point of clinical depression – psychiatrists have received a large number of patients with post-COVID syndrome. Studies show that “brain fog” has a very long-term manifestation, on average it persists for 7.5 months. Those who have been ill noted that their typical workload became more difficult after COVID: their work could noticeably slow down, executive functions deteriorate (the ability to plan effectively is normally lost). Verbal fluency is also greatly reduced – the ability to quickly extract information from the brain on a certain category (for example, when asked to list objects by a certain letter).

Why do people change their diet in post-COVID? – Because many have distorted sensations of taste and smell, difficulty in swallowing and pain. Some “lucky ones” quit drinking or smoking in the post-COVID – a disgust to taste and smell alcohol appears. Others have much more complexed problems – they have to completely change their diet.

For a faster recovery of health, vitality, energy and immunity, it is wise to include Ayurvedic nutritional supplements in your diet and thus help the body from the inside out. After all, the principles of Ayurveda are based on eliminating not the symptoms, but their original cause.

Does everyone suffer from post-COVID or only those who have been seriously ill with COVID-19? Post-COVID syndrome can develop even if a person has been ill easily. But there are conditions that increase the likelihood of its occurrence:

  • female gender (women generally tolerate COVID more easily, but post-covid syndrome develops more often in them);
  • age 50+ (approximately +3.5% probability for every next 10 years);
  • five or more symptoms of COVID-19 in the first week (for example, cough, runny nose, headache, fever, and diarrhea);
  • bronchial asthma as an underlying disease;
  • smoking;
  • overweight or obesity.

How to build up the post-COVID rehabilitation? The main rule is not to rush. The impact on the body is very strong. If you apply super-efforts, force yourself to do something, it is possible that this will cause additional damage. In the post-COVID period, proper nutrition and physical activity are important. For the duration of rehabilitation, you need to forget about all diets. For example, recovering requires fast energy, which is available from starchy foods. Protein foods and fats are also indispensable.

What activity is needed and is it possible to do sports? Gradual recovery is important and in no case should you force yourself. You need to gradually and slowly increase your activity level. With physical activity, we will have to deal with the most common manifestations of post-COVID, mostly with constant fatigue, loss of strength, shortness of breath, since after COVID many people forget how to breathe. To cope with shortness of breath, you should slow down the pace of life, break down tasks into smaller ones, and rest more often.

Breathing practices are best for rehabilitation. You can do the simplest things that are accessible to absolutely everyone: look at a rectangular object in the distance, and when we glide along the vertical part, we inhale, along the horizontal, exhale. In this case, the ratio of inhalation and exhalation in duration is 1 to 2 (exhalation is twice as long), 2-3 minutes is enough. Breathing exercises should be stopped in case of dizziness, severe weakness, cold sweat, etc.

Exercise for the rehabilitation of the post-COVID patient. – An approximate exercise schedule looks like this (consult your doctor):

  • 1 minute – breathing exercises;
  • 3 minutes – exercises for balance (as an option – transition from a position on all fours to a sitting position or combined turns of the head and pelvis);
  • 2 minutes – bending and stretching;
  • 3 minutes – strength exercises (lifting on toes, push-ups from the wall, half-squat);
  • 30-45 minutes – cardio (walking).

To deal with brain fog:

  • Music – listening and playing music. Music can act as a trigger and get memories out of your head.
  • Use your smartphone actively – there are a lot of interesting things, from notes and reminders to a pedometer.
  • Use paper calendars or magnetic boards on the refrigerator (with a shopping list, etc.).
  • Plan out your daily routine and schedule for the week.
  • There is no need to rush and be afraid to pause.
  • An important point with a low mood level – you cannot break all social ties and suppress such a state with alcohol, which is a real depressant and will only aggravate your emotional state.


With love from India,

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