7 Strategies to Manage Chronic COVID-19 Symptoms

Chronic COVID-19 Symptoms

Once the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic was fully recognized, the research, science, medical, and pharmaceutical sectors dove into action in an all-out effort to understand and try to solve this mysterious disease. In a relatively short period of time, some progress has been made, even though the infection and death rates have continued to fluctuate.

As of mid-February 2021, there have been more than 27 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. While the majority of people have survived, 465,000 have already died because of it. Age and pre-existing conditions undoubtedly underlay the vulnerability for most—but not all—of those who passed away because of it.

Most of those who are infected with COVID-19 find that their symptoms eventually subside after a period of several weeks. However, medical practitioners have increasingly become aware of a subset of patients who have symptoms that persist, even long after their COVID tests are negative.

Are Your COVID Symptoms Stubborn?

One might expect that problems such as shortness of breath, lingering cough, and body aches— among others, could take a while to subside after catching the virus, especially if a person was hospitalized with COVID. But surprisingly, a significant number of people—even if they only had mild or moderate cases—are experiencing ongoing brain-related symptoms, such as:

Initially, many physicians attributed these lingering symptoms to the psychological stress of having been stricken with the illness, so they were largely overlooked. However, now that so many people have had symptoms that are lasting for many months, the medical community has acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and refers to these folks as “COVID long-haulers.” And these aren’t just older people with pre-existing conditions! It’s estimated that about 10% of those who have survived COVID are now dealing with chronic symptoms.

Now that so many people have had symptoms that are lasting for many months, the medical community has acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and refers to these folks as 'COVID long-haulers.' Click To Tweet

COVID Brain is Real

At Amen Clinics, we are seeing a growing number of “COVID long-haulers.” They have come in for evaluations because their brains aren’t working the same as they did prior to getting COVID. For example, in the recent post-COVID scan on the left below, notice the bumpy pattern on the surface of the brain. This indicates overall areas of low blood flow and is consistent with the pattern we commonly see with infections and toxic exposure.

In the scan on the right, the dents or dimpled areas indicate low blood flow in the underside of the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes. These findings can help explain this patient’s concern about memory problems and other cognitive issues he has now but did not have prior to getting COVID-19 almost a year ago.

Research on COVID Long Haulers is Underway

The persistence of chronic COVID symptoms is still a medical mystery, but the good news is that since people all over the world are experiencing them, there is much research going on to figure out what the underlying cause(s) are. An increasing number of researchers and doctors have shared some of their investigations into the possible underlying mechanisms.

These include:

  1. COVID-19 could cause changes in the immune system that can be long-lasting—that the virus makes the immune system continue to overreact, even though COVID is no longer detectable through patients’ bloodwork.
  2. COVID-19 may trigger the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis/CFS), in the same way certain other viruses can—such as Epstein-Barr and Lyme disease.
  3. Some research has suggested that COVID-19, like other coronaviruses, can cross the blood-brain barrier—which normally protects the brain from viruses and toxins—and cause inflammation in the brain.

Although there are no definitive answers yet about the underlying mechanisms for chronic COVID symptoms, more research is being undertaken to try to solve this puzzle as soon as possible.

7 Ways to Support Your Brain and Body Now

If you are one of the approximately 2.7 million (and growing!) people in the U.S. dealing with long-haul COVID symptoms, there are steps you can take now to help bolster your health.

Here are 7 lifestyle strategies to support your brain and body:

  1. Be sure to eat a clean and healthy diet, with lots of fresh organic produce, lean protein, healthy fats (i.e., avocados and nuts), and low-glycemic carbs, such as sweet potatoes, legumes, and quinoa.
  2. Abstain from sugar as well as processed and fried foods because they increase inflammation, and after COVID-19, you definitely don’t need any more of that.
  3. Avoid alcohol. It also promotes inflammation and can worsen fatigue, cognitive problems and depressive symptoms.
  4. Exercise and move—to the extent you can. Even if it’s just walking around your home or doing some yoga stretches, movement can still be helpful to your body, brain, and emotional stress.
  5. If you’re having trouble sleeping, turn off your electronic devices at least 1 hour before bedtime, since the blue light emitted from them is stimulating to the brain. Try reading a book instead (paper, not from a device!).
  6. Support your immune system with an effective probiotic, vitamins D and C, as well as with certain types of mushrooms including shiitake, reishi, and lion’s mane.
  7. Consider doing a brain detox that includes:
  • Avoiding artificial sweeteners, dyes, and produce grown with pesticides
  • Using household cleaners that have fewer chemicals. Try more natural alternatives.
  • Switching to personal care products without harsh chemicals. Did you know lipstick often has lead in it?
  • If you smoke, there’s no better time than right now to stop. Your brain and body will thank you for eliminating this harmful habit.

Also, consider getting an evaluation with a functional medicine physician, such as Dr. Mark Filidei, the Director of Integrative/Functional Medicine at Amen Clinics, who is treating patients with COVID long-haul symptoms. By utilizing the results from lab tests for inflammation and infection, cognitive assessments, and brain SPECT scans, Dr. Filidei creates personalized treatment plans to help patients regain their mental and physical health.

COVID Brain is real and can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever!

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

23 Comments

  1. Be aware that no virus has been isolated or imaged. The PCR test does not diagnose illness or even demonstrate the presence of a certain virus. The “spike” protein is a computer simulation only. Moreover the antibodies stimulated by the vaccine are designed to attack body tissues similar is structure to the hypothetical “spike” protein. There is no evidence of overall excess deaths due to the “pandemic.” But there is plenty of evidence that numerous sources of pollution … industrial, agricultural , medical and EMF, correlate powerfully with concentration of “COVID” mortality and symptoms.

    Comment by Edward Flynn — February 26, 2021 @ 3:13 AM

  2. great article BUT there are no images of the normal versus COVID brain scans.

    Comment by Denice Lupcke — February 26, 2021 @ 5:07 AM

  3. Could you help. I do have long haul covid. I have many of the symptoms but my most frustrating is losing my taste and smell. Any ideas to help my brain do they will come back

    Comment by Becci — February 26, 2021 @ 6:53 AM

  4. I am a long hauler in Cleveland, OH. Is there someone in this area you can recommend?

    Comment by Gina — February 26, 2021 @ 7:00 AM

  5. Would like to see the 2 brain scans referenced in paragraph 6, please.

    Comment by Susan — February 26, 2021 @ 9:33 AM

  6. Hello Gina, we’d be happy to contact you directly to help coordinate this. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 26, 2021 @ 11:13 AM

  7. What about skinproblems is this a symptom too. What kind of support do long haulers get?

    Comment by coleton — February 26, 2021 @ 12:27 PM

  8. The “Microbes and Mental Illness” platform put out an article this week of relevance to us Long Haulers. It is entitled “Covid-19 hyperinflammation and post-Covid-19 illness may be rooted in mast cell activation syndrome.” I have had covid for a year now, but it came upon previous infections of ME/ CFS, probable Lyme disease, extensive contact with lead, methyl chloride, trichothecene molds and only one kidney, etc. So, I live with chronic horrid cytokine storms, mentioned in the article as being a major player in the morbidity of the disease. Several substances can help: antihistamines, for H1 and H2, cromolyn and numerous supplements such as quercetin. I would like to see more information about how Ivermectin might help thwart the mast cell activation process. The article PMID 32920235 is excellent and alarming at the same time.

    Comment by Susan Miller — February 26, 2021 @ 8:34 PM

  9. Do you know of a practitioner in France, preferably Paris, Limoges or Toulouse, who I can work with? I will return to NYC eventually — not until I can get vaccinated though.

    Comment by Leigh — February 27, 2021 @ 3:07 AM

  10. I also am a long hauler but in New Jersey, southern. Is there someone you could recommend near me please?

    Comment by Gina — February 27, 2021 @ 5:10 AM

  11. Is there anyone in Nebraska that I can contact on this?

    Comment by Diane Simmons — February 27, 2021 @ 5:25 AM

  12. What natural cleaning supplies would you recommend? I am one with numerous medical conditions and waiting for vaccine but am a teacher that will be returning to school in less than 2 weeks. MA is a state that did not put teacher vaccine possible before putting teachers in with the high COVID cases areas. I have diabetes, overweight, epilepsy (2 brain surgeries), celiac, polyester allergy, chronic Urticaria and sensitive to lactose. I walk 3-4 times a day for about an hour and a half to 3 hrs, shower daily with natural beauty supplies, take natural vitamins, eat fresh foods home made, and use essential oils from Young Living. Thank you.

    Comment by Cassie — February 27, 2021 @ 6:00 AM

  13. I’m a Covid Long hauler also. I live in Katy Tx, Wes of Houston . Could you recommend someone here?
    Thanks!

    Comment by Renee Fancher — February 27, 2021 @ 6:22 AM

  14. What about Covid and tinnitus? I’m hearing alot bout that lately?

    Comment by Marybeth — February 27, 2021 @ 10:42 AM

  15. I had Covid19 , and exactly on day 21 my brain
    Became foggy, some short memory even for easy questions, difficulty to get focus ,and vertigo, but living in Tulsa, OK. I thought it was ,because allergies, but then I doubt it because we just had snow storm, now a day my brain is still recovering but still I can feel some vertigo and sometimes foggy.
    I do work for surgery in a Hospital , I would like to know if I could talk about these problems with one of your specialists.

    Comment by MARTHA SANTOYO — February 28, 2021 @ 2:21 PM

  16. I need a physical. I experience headaches, brain fog, aches. I live in Harrisburg, pa. Tell me where to go.

    Comment by Linda Bonaparte lb — February 28, 2021 @ 2:45 PM

  17. Hello Diane, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information regarding appointments with one of our clinics. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2021 @ 11:48 AM

  18. Hello Gina, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information regarding appointments with one of our clinics. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinic — March 1, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

  19. Hello Renee, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with additional information regarding appointments with one of our clinics. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2021 @ 12:01 PM

  20. Hello Coleton, thank you fro reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2021 @ 12:21 PM

  21. Hello Leigh, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to contact you directly with more information on scheduling an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2021 @ 12:24 PM

  22. Hello Martha, thank you for reaching out. We’d be happy to reach out to you directly with more information about scheduling an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 1, 2021 @ 12:30 PM

  23. Loved this article
    Am from Canada
    Am a long hauler
    Have had multiple aftermath effects..
    chronologically aged
    young in mind and that keeps me going💕

    Comment by Mary Courchene — March 2, 2021 @ 11:26 AM

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