Some people who recover from COVID-19 develop new or lingering symptoms in the weeks and months after their initial infection is gone. You might have heard this being called “long-hauler syndrome” or “post-COVID syndrome,” but doctors who treat this condition know it as Post-Acute Syndrome Sars-CoV-2 infection (PASC). Researchers are finding it occurs in the young and the old, and in previously healthy patients as well as those with co-morbid chronic illnesses. People can develop the syndrome regardless of the severity of their COVID symptoms, and whether or not they were hospitalized.
A survey of Americans with mild COVID cases found that 35% reported lingering symptoms two to three weeks after their initial diagnosis. A study in the British Medical Journal found that 10% of people with COVID-19 will experience symptoms lasting more than three weeks, with a smaller percentage continuing to have symptoms for months. The most common symptoms of post-COVID syndrome are brain fog and easy fatigability, but an array of symptoms have been reported including persistent pain, skin rashes, dizzy spells, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, and hair loss.
So, what is going on?
Doctors who treat other post infection inflammatory syndromes such as chronic Lyme’s disease and chronic fatigue syndrome recognize many of the signs and symptoms of long-hauler COVID. These conditions share several key characteristics, most of which can be tied back to persistent immune system imbalance and mitochondrial dysfunction. The causes are likely multifactorial, but likely include an overzealous immune response, endovascular and systemic inflammation or clotting disorders, and direct cellular damage from viral replication during the acute illness.
How do we treat long-hauler’s syndrome?
The basic strategy is a functional medicine, anti-inflammatory approach, including supplements such as Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C, and Quercetin. Intravenous NAD+ infusions to replenish impaired NDA+ metabolism that occurs with chronic inflammation is a promising therapy as well as a potential prophylaxis against developing the syndrome. Red light and near Infrared light has been shown to be effective in chronic inflammatory states. Post-Covid brain fog may be the effect of micro-infarcts and neuroinflammation, so IV medical ozone therapy would be appropriate to counter the resulting effects of local hypoxia and to stimulate stem cell proliferation. Finally, promising clinical studies have been performed looking at the use of IV exosomes for the treatment of severe Covid-19. It follows that IV exosomes might also be effective in the treatment of post-covid syndrome.
As the research on COVID continues, we will get a better understanding of the best ways to treat the different complexities and variations of post-COVID syndrome. In the meantime, if you are experiencing COVID-related symptoms of any kind, make an appointment with a provider at Austin Pain Wellness and find out what therapy might be the best for you.