‘LONG COVID’ is affecting record numbers of people who have come through coronavirus infection but are left with ongoing debilitating symptoms of post-viral fatigue, a well-known phenomenon.
Characterised by up to 50 long-term effects, they include chronic fatigue, hair loss, headache, brain fog, anxiety, breathlessness, post-viral arthritis and vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels).
One UK study on a young, low-risk population (mean age 44), found that 70% of individuals suffered persistent dysfunction in one or more organs 16 weeks after initial symptoms.
Another study has shown that Covid is typically leaving a ‘long tail’ of chronic inflammation and cellular stress in patients who tested positive but were asymptomatic or only had mild symptoms.
Chronic Covid syndrome (CCS) can linger for many months and has presented the medical community with the next challenge of how best help people recover.
While answers remain unclear, the question is, can diet play a role?
Nutritional therapies that target energy metabolism and rejuvenating the immune system are being favoured and used with some success, and particularly strategies that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Here, we share the story of Hollie Chan, 28, a Covid ‘long hauler’ from Staffordshire, who has come out the other side after being infected with Covid and consequently suffering Long Covid.
When were you diagnosed with Covid and long Covid?
I contracted the virus in early February 2021. I was diagnosed with Long Covid in March.
What were your symptoms?
In the acute phase of Covid, I experienced the temperature, cough, terrible aches and pains in my legs and arms, sickness/nausea, brain fog/lack of concentration, fatigue and a leg rash.
A month or so after my symptoms had passed, I was still left with the fatigue, brain fog and nausea. It wasn't so black and white, as I seemed to be doing better but would relapse a lot.
I was following a story of a doctor who contracted the virus just before I did and he was also diagnosed with Long Covid months later. He described it as snakes and ladders, you'd go up and then you'd go down.
This is basically where I was for four months. You have to be super careful with what you do. If you overdo it, you put yourself back a week, so knowing your limits is a huge part of your recovery.
How did it affect your day-to-day life?
An ongoing lack of concentration has really affected me. I haven't even been able to drive as I haven't been able to focus on things or concentrate very well.
I could look at spreadsheets I've been looking at for years but not understand or work with them at all. This is probably the scariest symptom I've experienced.
I'm not an anxious person and I've never suffered from anxiety or panic attacks before this experience, but in the last few months it's been very difficult mentally as well physically, which I don't think people are talking about enough.
Everyone focuses on the cough and the breathing, which is of course are very serious, but also it also affects you mentally as well, which we need to recognise.
Did you see the doctor? What did they advise?
I did on multiple occasions, they prescribed me some anti-sickness tablets and B12 vitamins as my B levels were a little low.
They also referred me to a Long Covid centre, but the waiting list is so long I still haven't been seen and I would say I'm nearly over it.
We have to remember that the doctors are learning too so they didn't have all of the answers, which was difficult as all you want to know is ‘how long is this going to last? When will I feel better again?’
The simple answer is that they don't know.
What did you do to help yourself?
I took CurraNZ along with other vitamins and supplements in order to help my immune system. I was also taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D, B12 and CoQ10. I would say they helped in my recovery as I was giving my immune system as much chance as possible to help fight off the virus.
How quickly did you see any changes?
Honestly, I wouldn't say I felt changes but if I stopped taking them, I think my recovery could have been longer than it has been. Everything I was taking were giving my immune system as much help as possible to fight off the virus.
What helped you - and what advice can you give?
The biggest piece of advice I would give anyone going through it now is know your limits, don't push yourself and be patient. It's a long game but just know it will pass eventually, you just have to be patient and take it at your own pace.
Staying mobile and healthy was tricky but it helped. My strategy was to support my body through diet and supplements, so it could focus on fighting the virus, as opposed to putting up with any junk.
The biggest thing that helped me was the support I received. I'm fortunate enough to work for a very good company who supported me every step of the way, a great husband who become my carer for six months and a family who have been at my beck and call.