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by Sheena Hendon Health

A summary of how can you support the management and treatment of long Covid naturally

What is long Covid?

Long COVID describes the symptoms that continue or develop after the initial COVID-19 symptoms. This is usually longer than 12 weeks after a person is first infected.

Most people who get COVID-19 recover completely after 2 to 6 weeks and make a full recovery within 12 weeks. However, some people report a range of symptoms beyond the standard time of recovery.

Symptoms of long COVID can persist for weeks or sometimes months. They can include:

  • fatigue
  • breathlessness
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • chest tightness
  • chest pain
  • difficulty concentrating, cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog’
  • difficulty sleeping
  • pins and needles
  • dizziness
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • and more…

Functional medicine aims to support and manage long covid

  • Support immune response and reduce inflammation
  • Reduce stress on the body – mental, physical and emotional
  • Reduce the burden on your body as much as we can to allow it to heal easily (eg support underlying autoimmune conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infections, poor gut function…)

Actions:

Diet. Ensure your diet is anti-inflammatory with lots of good oils – olive, nuts, seeds, chia, flaxseeds etc. In your session you will be provided personalised guidelines Also follow guidelines developed specifically for your individuals needs by Sheena Hendon

Sleep: As much as you can

Rest. Aim for gentle to moderate exercise. Learn to say no as often as you can to give yourself the time to repair

Stress: Minimise! Say no at the moment to lower the burden

Supplements (the right supplements for your individual needs will be discussed with you)

1. Weeks 1 and 2 Support immune response balance

2. Weeks 3 to 5. Reduce inflammation including brain inflammation (brain fog)

3. Weeks 6 onwards. Address any unique factors if needed (eg dysbiosis, UTIs, excess viral load, URTIs, nutrient deficincy’s etc).

Exercise

Regaining fitness after a COVID infection can be hard. Here are 5 things to keep in mind before you start exercising again

Are you finding it difficult to get moving after having COVID? You are not alone. Even if you have mild symptoms, you may still experience difficulty in regaining your fitness.

Building back up to exercise is important, but so is taking it slowly.

In general, most people can start to return to exercise or sporting activity after experiencing no symptoms for at least seven days. If you still have symptoms two weeks post-diagnosis, you should seek medical advice.

It’s normal for your body to feel fatigued while you are fighting a viral infection, as your body uses up more energy during this period. But it’s also very easy to lose muscle strength with bed rest. A study of older adults in ICU found they could lose up to 40% of muscle strength in the first week of immobility.

Weaker muscles not only negatively impact your physical function but also your organ function and immune system, which are vital in regaining your strength after COVID-19.

You might consider doing some very gentle exercises (such as repeated sit-to-stands for a minute, marching on the spot or some light stretches) to keep your joints and muscles moving while you have COVID, especially if you are older, and overweight, or have underlying chronic diseases.

Five things to keep in mind about exercising after COVID

If you do feel you are ready to return to exercise and have not experienced any COVID-related symptoms for at least seven days, here are five things to remember when resuming exercise.

1)Adopt a phased return to physical activity. Even if you used to be a marathon runner, start at a very low intensity. Low-intensity activities include walking, stretching, yoga and gentle strengthening exercises.

2)Strengthening exercises are just as important as cardio. Strength training can trigger the production of hormones and cells that boost your immune system. Bodyweight exercises are a great starting point if you do not have access to weights or resistance bands. Simple bodyweight exercises can include free squats, calf raises and push-ups.

3)Don’t over-exert. Use the perceived exertion scale to guide how hard you should be working. For a start, aim to only exercise at a perceived exertion rate of two or three out of ten, for 10-15 minutes. During exercise, continue to rate your perceived level of exertion and do not push past fatigue or pain during this early stage as it can set your recovery back.

Note In general in a fit and healthy person When exercising, a person should aim for a rating between 7 and 8, which refers to the “moderate activity” level. If an individual is rating at 9 or higher, they need to reduce the intensity of their workout to avoid potential injury or overexertion.

The perceived rate of exertion scale

RPE scaleRate of perceived exertion
10Max effort activity
Feels almost impossible to keep going. Completely out of breath, unable to talk. Cannot maintain tor more than a very short time
9Very hard activity
Very difficult to maintain exercise intensity. Can barely breathe and speak only a few words
7-8Vigorous activity
Borderline uncomfortable. Short of breath, can speak a sentence
4-6Moderate activity
Breathing heavily, can hold a short conversation. Still somewhat comfortable, but becoming noticeably more challenging
2-3Light activity
Feels like you can maintain for hours. Easy to breathe and carry a conversation
1Very light activity
Hardly any exertion, but more than sleeping, watching TV, etc

4)Listen to your body. Only progress the intensity of your exercise and lengthen your exercise

duration if you do not experience any new or returning symptoms after exercise, and if you have fully recovered from the previous day’s exercise. Do not over-exert. You may also need to consider having a rest day between exercise sessions to allow time for recovery.

5)Look out for worrying symptoms. If you experience chest pain, dizziness or difficulty with breathing during exercise, stop immediately. Seek urgent medical advice if symptoms persist after exercise. And if you experience increased fatigue after exercise, talk to your GP.

Next steps

For more information or to book an appointment with Sheena Hendon to develop a personalised plan – diet, lifestyle and nutraceuticals visit www.sheenahendonhealth.co.nz

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