Long COVID, this is a term that has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years. By the time you finish reading about it you will understand how to know if you are dealing with it, what exact is long covid, common symptoms, and what should be looked for to get answers and solutions.

First before we dive in, we get how difficult it can be. Many with long COVID are told nothing is wrong, they look fine, their labs are normal, or even that long COVID is made up and doesn’t exist.

You are reading this because you don’t believe that and are committed to getting answers and solutions.

How Do I Know If I Have Long-COVID?

How do I know if I’m dealing with long COVID? This is a question millions have and there is a lot of confusion. When looking at whether this is an appropriate diagnosis there are a few things to consider:

  • Have you had covid? It doesn’t matter if it was a mild or more severe case as anyone can get it.
  • Do you continue to have symptoms for longer than 3 months even if the symptoms aren’t exactly the same? Brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, word finding, joint pain, tachycardia, muscle pain, blood pressure changes, and more.
  • Have other potential causes of your symptoms been ruled out? Anemia, thyroid, autoimmunity, etc.

If you answered yes, then there is a likelihood you could be dealing with symptoms of long COVID. One of the most frustrating things is that there isn’t a blood test that everyone can do to see whether they have it or not.

What Is Long-COVID

Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to a range of symptoms that continue for weeks or months after the acute phase of a COVID-19 infection has resolved. While all the exact reasons for long COVID to develop are unknown, there are a few things that we know.

  1. Immune dysfunction as a result of COVID infection creates an inflammatory response. While brief inflammation is great for recovery, prolong inflammation is never a good thing. This results in the immune system getting out of sync and impairs function in different organs. Depending on where the inflammation occurs can have a big impact on symptoms. Areas commonly impacted include lungs, cardiovascular, neurological, and musculoskeletal. It should be noted that autoimmunity, where the body attacks itself, does occur following COVID. It is also known that viruses such as EBV can be re-activated due to changes in the immune system.
  2. Mitochondrial, energy producers of the cell, dysfunction occurs and impacts how well the cell functions. This not only impacts energy, but recovery and ability to resolve inflammation. As mitochondria are throughout our body we can have a variety of issues.
  3. Blood brain barrier (BBB) damage. The blood brain barrier is meant to protect the brain from outside influences that could result in damage. Covid is known to impact the BBB. This is why so many individuals have neurological based symptoms: brain fog, fatigue, word finding, dizziness, dysautonomia, poor focus, headaches, and blurry vision. These are the same symptoms individuals have with concussions or brain injuries and is why if someone has these symptoms it should always be evaluated and treated like a brain injury.

Needless to say, when these 3 things happen it leads to nothing good. Covid like lyme, mold, and some other infections loves taking advantage of pre-existing issues. Sometimes the pre-existing issues you didn’t know about because your body had it under control. For example, a prior concussion even if deemed recovered still increases the likelihood of long-COVID.

This is why recovery can be challenging especially if you try to find the one thing to address. Don’t worry, we’ll get into how to get answers and solutions.

Before we do that, we will explore the symptoms individuals have.

Common Symptoms of Long COVID

While this is a list of symptoms, it isn’t required to have all of them.

Fatigue: Persistent and often debilitating tiredness that is not relieved by rest is one of the most reported symptoms. Most individuals have already had their thyroid and blood sugar checked to make sure it isn’t it.

Cognitive Impairments: Commonly referred to as “brain fog,” this includes difficulties with memory, concentration, word finding, and executive function.

Shortness of Breath or Difficulty Breathing: Many people experience lingering respiratory issues, even after mild initial infections.

Chest Pain or Tightness: Ongoing chest discomfort can be a lingering effect.

Heart Palpitations: Irregular heartbeats or a feeling of a racing heart are frequently reported.

Joint or Muscle Pain: Persistent pain in muscles and joints can be a long-term symptom.

Loss of Taste and Smell: While this often occurs during the acute phase of COVID-19, some people find these senses do not return to normal for a long time.

Headaches: Chronic or recurring headaches are common in Long COVID patients.

Sleep Disturbances: This includes difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and non-restorative sleep.

Mood Changes: Anxiety, depression, and mood swings are often reported, likely due to both the physiological effects of the virus and the psychological impact of prolonged illness.

Dysautonomia: Is a term to describe dysfunction of the nervous in how it regulates blood pressure and heart rate. The most common type of dysautonomia is POTS, which is where the blood pressure drops and heart rate increases substantially when standing up.

Other Symptoms: Gastrointestinal issues, skin rashes, hair loss, and a variety of other symptoms have been associated with Long COVID.

These symptoms can fluctuate and vary in intensity, and their persistent nature can significantly impact the quality of life. The wide range of symptoms reflects the systemic nature of COVID-19 and underscores the importance of a holistic approach to treatment and management.

What To Look For When Getting Help

By this point in time, it is clear you are likely dealing with Long-COVID and that you are committed to your and getting better.

Warning- there is no magic bullet and anyone trying to sell that doesn’t understand Long-COVID. We can’t say how many times we’ve seen patients who went through the ringer with different therapies without a good reason for trying it.

Now that we briefly discussed what to avoid, what do you need to consider.

As we noted what happens with Long-COVID: immune dysfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, and blood brain barrier damage. That is where the answers will lie.

Immune dysfunction (aka, how health is the immune system and what drives inflammation:

  • What do your immune markers look like: CBC, lymphocyte MAP testing, autoimmune markers, and infections that can be reactivated?
  • Do you have pre-existing issues with autoimmunity, allergies, or frequently getting sick?
  • Markers of inflammation: hs-CRP, ESR, MMP-9, TGFBeta
  • Blood sugar or insulin issues?

Mitochondrial dysfunction:

  • Issues with anemia
  • Thyroid
  • Blood sugar or insulin
  • Sleep
  • Brain health

Blood brain barrier damage (how healthy is the brain):

  • Eye movements are known as the window into the health of the brain. Eye movement testing performed with computerized technology will give the best results. This type of testing is very different than what an eye doctor will perform.
  • Balance testing is another great way to evaluate brain health. Having issues with balance doesn’t mean you are tripping or running into something. Using computerized testing on a perturbed surface with both eyes open and closed is essential.
  • Brain wave testing can let us know if the brain is out of rhythm. Think of this like a band that is out of sync. While everyone is technically playing you don’t get the outcome you’d like.
  • MRI research has shown that COVID can cause the brain to shrink. While this information can be useful, it’s not absolutely necessary and often doesn’t change the care being provided.

Alright, you know what to look for and what questions you should be asking in order to get better.

If this sounds like an approach you are looking for, then click “Make An Appointment” below to get started.

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