According to the CDC, 1 in 5 people are currently experiencing a mysterious combination of lingering symptoms after their one or many bouts with Covid. Post-Covid, or “Long Covid”, as it is most commonly known, seems to be an elusive disorder encompassing a variety of symptoms, with some people experiencing only one or many at the same time. These include debilitating chronic fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations, lingering cough, loss of taste and smell, hair loss and shortness of breath among many other symptoms. All these indicate an imbalanced immune response, which may also make you susceptible to reinfection or an over-reaction to an infection.
We know by now that Covid-19, or one of its many variants, is here to stay, mutating often. As we approach the upcoming cold and flu season, it is best to get ahead of things and improve on our health, whether you experience Long Covid or like you immune system may need a boost. Even if you happened to evade the virus all this time, you’ll want to maintain a state of resilient health going forward in the event of future waves.
Acupuncture is an effective treatment if you are experiencing residual symptoms from Covid infection. In a short time, the therapeutic benefits will help resolve the more obvious symptoms you are presenting, while simultaneously working in the background to correct the underlying cause. Furthermore, it also acts as a preventative by building the immune system to prevent future reinfection.
A study recently published by The European Respiratory Journal shows 75% of those experiencing Long Covid symptoms should recover after a year. This may sound promising, because it indicates there is an end in sight. But I’d like to ask you if you are willing to wait that long to experience some relief and get back to enjoying your life? And what happens if you catch the next mutation of this virus while you are still dealing with the effects from the last one? Worse yet, what if you’re part of the 25% that don’t recover? Considering those proposals, the study doesn’t sound as hopeful anymore.
Researchers now understand the mediating factors behind Long Covid. In short, it is a miscommunication in the immune system that produces too much of IL6, an inflammatory chemical and not enough of IL4 and IL10, anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory chemicals. As a consequence a person may experience a worse case of Covid or have higher chances of developing post Covid fatigue, anxiety, depression and sleeping disturbances.
Your doctor may seek to treat your symptoms with prescriptions, or nothing at all, as lab results and x-rays are reportedly showing up as normal despite the research. Meanwhile, you don’t feel so normal. The truth is, your primary care physician is as much in the dark about this as you. And if they cannot pinpoint a cause for your symptoms, it will be hard to create an effective treatment plan that offers total relief and restores your health sooner.
Acupuncture takes the approach of getting to the root cause through addressing underlying immune responses. In fact, recent studies show that the majority of people experiencing Long Covid have an underlying dysregulation. Combining my practice in functional medicine, I will examine lab results from your doctor and commission further testing to get a bigger picture of what may be going on behind the scenes. Herbal supplementation can also be helpful in treating symptoms as they work complementary to your treatment.
I would be remiss to continue speaking about this without mentioning anxiety. It may not be commonly associated with Covid or long-term Covid, but a growing number of people begin experiencing anxiety post-infection.
Anxiety seems to be a hard one to pin down for many physicians. While they do provide screenings for the disorder, they are not able to do much besides prescribe drugs, which can have undesirable effects such as lethargy, weight gain and dependency. And it can be a game of trial and error in finding the right prescription. At minimum, it can take several months in talk therapy to work through any issues affecting the psyche.
So, it is helpful to seek more immediate relief for the physical symptoms associated with the disorder, such as restlessness, heart palpitations and insomnia. There are certain points in acupuncture that when stimulated can induce immediate calming effects. Regular treatment for a time can teach the body to respond to stressors in a better way. We will also want to rule out any underlying conditions which could be causing the body to physically react in a fight or flight mode. Unstable blood sugar levels can have underlying conditions, and corrective diet recommendations along with treatment can regulate this. Inflammation, something that has been found to linger in people experiencing Long Covid, should also be addressed as it can affect the brain and its chemistry.
In my opinion, anxiety, depression and any mood disorders should be treated with just as much urgency as other ailments, as stress is the biggest cause of a suppressed immune system. This makes one more susceptible to reinfection to future variants of Covid and other viruses.
To Your Health,
Arthur Gazaryants, DOM