As an Integrative & Functional Medicine physician I cannot help but see correlations and patterns. This is what I do. I listen to your story and observe patterns related to your health. Over the past few years, I could not help but to note so many similarities between people suffering from Post Covid Syndrome and people I have previously treated-long before COVID- with conditions such as Chronic Fatigue and Autoimmune illness. I have been reading and learning more about Post Covid Syndrome’s effects on the body; I have found that the literature and other colleagues have noted the same correlations.
Much of the focus of the effects of COVID19 infections has been on who gets hospitalized- which is absolutely important- but we also need to examine the aftermath of infection. For many, a pandora’s box of other issues is unlocked post infection, regardless of whether a person was hospitalized. For some, though rare, vaccination has caused cascades of complications as well. (I am still supportive of the vaccine and encourage you to get a booster if you qualify- but feel we need good internal PPE to help the vaccine have it’s best benefit as we rely on our immune system to protect us by it’s response to the vaccine.)
Let’s review how Post-COVID Syndrome can present:
- Cough/wheezing, runny nose
- Chronic Dyspnea/SOB/pulmonary fibrotic changes
- Brain fog/altered attention span/cognitive impairment/ delirium/encephalopathy
- Sleep Disturbances
- Hair loss
- Myalgias/ joint pain
- Loss or altered sense of taste, smell/ GI Imbalance
- Cardiomyopathy/venous & arterial thrombosis/electrical disturbances/myocardial damage/chest pain/ palpitations
- Positional orthostatic tachycardia syndrome/orthostatic hypotension,vasovagal syncope, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
Post-COVID Syndrome can cause chronic tissue damage to one or more systems. Treatment employs a functional approach: addressing antecedents, triggers and mediators to discern the root cause. Identifying where the body is dysregulated, we can use a targeted approach to promote healing of the tissue.
Taking stock of our ‘Internal PPE’: managing our stress, prioritizing rest and relaxation, and a healthy lifestyle are all important to our health, wellbeing, and thus our immune system. Nonetheless, severe or moderate fatigue, brain fog, and insomnia post-viral infection can be frustrating and debilitating. A few things to consider when addressing these issues include:
- Gut health: If the gut is out of balance and inflamed from diet or other triggers during this fragile time, it often amplifies these symptoms. Eliminating proinflammatory foods from your diet, such as gluten and dairy can help promote quicker recovery and lessen symptoms.
- Mitochondrial Health: Aiding mitochondria- the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells- to refresh and recharge is essential for energy production. In addition to nourishing the body with nutritious, antiinflammatory foods, some supplements can be beneficial for optimizing cellular energy:
- Magnesium glycinate or threonate 400-600 mg
- Coq10 300-400 mg
- ALA 300 mg
- D ribose 5gm 3 times per day
- NADH 10 mg twice daily
- L carnitine 2000 mg if tmao level is normal
- Balancing the immune system: Similar to symptoms present in people experiencing autoimmune disorders, patients dealing with Post-COVID syndrome often are dealing with a disoriented immune system. To help balance the immune system and prevent further damage, we can utilize supplements such as SPM (Special Pro-Resoliving Mediators), Vitamin D, and some prescriptions such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) to help mediate the immune response.
- Nervous System: Post viral disorders often affect us neurologically as well. This can affect mood, neuroplasticity, and/or prompt anxiety, insomnia, and/or depression. Integrative & Functional Medicine recognize that the body’s systems do not act in isolation but rather collectively. Exploring possible nervous system ailments is an important part of optimizing digestive and immune integrity and contrariwise. Some tools we can use to cultivate a healthy nervous system are guided imagery, tapping, tai chi, and mindfulness breath exercises.
Resources & to learn more:
Julie Reardon MD & Norma Perez PhD discuss Post-COVID Syndrome (video interview)