Recovering from Long-Term COVID Effects
If you’ve had moderate or severe COVID-19 infection, you know that the recovery can be tough and lengthy. Fortunately, most people get better with no major, life-altering after-effects.
That’s not to say long-term symptoms aren’t common, because they actually are. Recent research shows that up to 80% of COVID sufferers had at least one non-life-threatening, lingering symptom two weeks after infection. These symptoms can last for several weeks or months, making recovery even more challenging.
This study identified more than 50 persistent post-COVID symptoms. The most common is fatigue (affecting 58%), followed by headache (44%), attention disorder (27%), hair loss (25%), difficulty breathing (24%), and loss of smell (24%). Other common long-term symptoms include memory loss, chest discomfort, tinnitus/hearing loss, joint pain, cough, polypnea (rapid breathing), and loss of taste.
Again, the good news is that eventually these symptoms resolve on their own. While living the healthiest lifestyle possible is the best way to come out of it on the other side, there are a few things you can do to make full recovery a little easier. Here are some ideas.
Hair loss can be distressing at any point in life, but after COVID it can feel like a real punch in the gut. After all, what does a respiratory virus have to do with hair in the first place?
Post-COVID hair loss is believed to be caused by telogen effluvium. This is a condition occurs a few months after an emotionally or physically stressful event, such as illness, high fever, or rapid weight loss.
With telogen effluvium, the body goes into sort of a lockdown mode. It focuses only on essential functions that help in healing and survival. Since hair growth is not essential to survival, this function stops and shifts to the shedding, or “telogen,” phase in the hair cycle.
Typically, people lose about 100 hairs a day. With telogen effluvium, it can be up to 300 hairs a day for six to nine months.
Fortunately, this condition is temporary and corrects itself once the stressor goes away. The key is patience, with a little help from supplements and over-the-counter products:
- Be gentle with your hair. Avoid vigorous brushing, blow drying, and using heated tools as much as possible.
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, and protein.
- Supplement with nutrients known to boost hair growth, including biotin, zinc, collagen, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Use gentle shampoos/conditioners and other hair products formulated to protect and regrow hair. True Pure and Amplixin are two such brands, created with ingredients like biotin, sage, caffeine, and aloe that are clinically proven to invigorate the scalp, strengthen hair roots, and repair damaged follicles.
Respiratory symptoms like cough and rapid and/or difficulty breathing are common post-COVID. Cough in particular can persist for weeks or months. Research shows this may be the result of inflammation.
Interestingly, research shows that curcumin—the medicinal component in the spice turmeric—can be helpful for cough.
Bradykinin is a protein that’s involved in the inflammatory processes that occur with respiratory tract infections, asthma, etc. Bradykinin is also thought to trigger cough.
Curcumin, however, has been found to inhibit the activity of bradykinin, helping to reduce not only cough but inflammation. A high-quality curcumin you may want to try is Newport Natural Health’s Curcumin EX Plus. It is formulated with Cavacurmin, which is 40 times more absorbable than ordinary curcumin.
Another product you can add to your post-COVID recovery regimen, especially if you’re dealing with lung, cough, or breathing issues, is BrainChild Nutritional’s Lung Formula.
This product contains herbs known to support lung health, promote stronger immune function, and help with a range of inflammation-related respiratory conditions.
It contains Osha Root, one of the best herbs for lung and throat infections because it stimulates white blood cell activity. It also helps clear lungs and brings more blood into the lungs, which assists with dilation.
It also includes elecampane, a tonic herb that has a warming effect on the lungs, soothes bronchial tube linings, and stimulates the clearing of mucus.
Finally, the importance of supporting your immune system cannot be overstated. You probably already know about the immune-boosting properties of supplements like zinc, vitamins A, C, and D, and probiotics. But have you ever heard of olive leaf extract for immunity?
Olive oil certainly gets its fair share of attention, but other components of the olive, like its juice and leaves, have many amazing benefits as well.
Olive leaf, in particular, has been studied for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and for its ability to fight viral infections. Extracts contain higher amounts of polyphenols than those found in the whole olive or olive oil.
In one study, olive leaf extracts increased CD8+ and natural killer cells. CD8+ cells are involved in immunity, and include a subset of cells called cytotoxic T cells, which kill cancerous or virally infected cells.
Along with immune support, olive leaf extract also helps to reduce blood pressure, improve heart health, and enhance memory and learning.
Olive leaf extract supplements are readily available at health food stores and through vitamin retailers. You can also buy it from Tranquility Labs. The general daily dosage is 750 mg.
Finally, if you’re recovering from COVID-19 or its long-term effects, we can’t stress this enough: Reduce as much stress as possible in your life. Fighting an illness is stressful enough; don’t add to it.
Additionally: Rest as needed. Eat a nutritious diet. Go for a walk outside in nature to get some physical activity and fresh air. Take healthy-supporting nutritional supplements like a multivitamin and those discussed here. Doing all of this will allow your body to heal much faster than it would if you were eating junk food, stressing yourself out beyond control, and overdoing it in general.
Wishing you the best in health and recovery!
Leon SL, et al. More than 50 long-term effects of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2021 Aug 9;11(1):16144.
Song W, et al. Confronting COVID-19-associated cough and the post-COVID syndrome: role of viral neurotropism, neuroinflammation, and neuroimmune responses. Lancet Respir Med. 2021 May; 9(5): 533–544.
Babaei F, et al. Curcumin (a constituent of turmeric): New treatment option against COVID-19. Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Oct;8(10):5215–5227.
Magrone T, et al. Olive leaf extracts act as modulators of the human immune response. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2018;18(1):85–93.