Long Covid: Where We Are and How to Avoid It
Long Covid is the primary reason why I do everything I can to avoid contracting the virus, and as a healthcare provider, paint this picture as the #1 reason to get vaccinated. Scouring the news today, I felt compelled to share a summary of the basics, so that you can be familiarized with what medical science is telling us at this moment in time.
Newly published studies are showing that Long Covid is more prominent than was previously known.
What constitutes “Long Covid?” Let’s start with a general definition:
- If someone has tested positive for the virus and is experiencing symptoms that are lasting weeks or months or are emerging weeks or months later.
- The CDC and WHO narrow this to a window of developing symptoms one month or three months after the initial infection. (I state this in case you encounter slightly different definitions, since as we know, the information swirling around Covid-19 has often been confusing).
Covid can affect any part of the body, showing up in any of the organ systems. Medical science has some theories, but are a long way off from pinning it down. Since underlying causes are such a favorite personal focus, I don’t want to get too tangential and may write about this more when that data emerges. For now, suffice it to say that the immune system and it’s accompanying inflammatory response play a major role, as well as the circulatory system.
Some of the most common symptoms of Long Covid include:
- Breathing difficulty
- Chronic cough,
- GI symptoms
- Rapid heart beat
- Brain fog
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Mood: depression and/or anxiety
How many people have Long Covid?
Based on studies, as of March 2022, it is estimated that between 7.7 million and 23 million Americans are experiencing Long Covid. Keep in mind that roughly 70 – 90 percent of people who get Covid-19 DO NOT experience Long Covid.
Who is likely to get Long Covid?
- Anyone who tests positive for the virus, even those who are asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, have the potential to develop symptoms after the initial infection has resolved.
- NOTE that if you are fully vaccinated, your odds of developing it are statistically much lower.
Summary and Takeaways
- Long Covid: Where We Are and How to Avoid It is my effort to highlight the data for a quick take-away to you, the reader. This will all change as more information becomes available.
- What’s remarkable, is the speed with which this condition is being recognized, when you consider that for years the medical profession did not take seriously people who complained of conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
- In my private practice, I have used Eastern Medicine with good results for many of the symptoms. In particular, patients report more energy/less fatigue, a lifting of brain fog, less musculoskeletal pain, fewer or no headaches, better breathing, no more GI issues, etcetera.
- My opinion based purely on observation in my practice as an acupuncturist (meaning: please take this with a grain of salt): immunity + exposure (e.g. viral load) are the primary influential factors for getting the infection in the first place. That is, I see patients who have one or more of the following factors that may contribute to their susceptiblity: a period of stress from working too hard, not sleeping well, not eating the most stellar diet, and/or some emotional episode occurs – any of these can create an internal environment that make one more susceptible, so the goal is to stay out of the susceptible zone by doing all the “right” things to maintain health.
If you want to read more, here are the links to the information I used to write this article:
- The CDC
- The British Medical Journal
- The New York Times
- The New York Times’ podcast The Daily 5/20/22
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