There’s an unspoken epidemic happening right now and I want to address it. You’ve probably heard of long Covid, which is when people have lingering symptoms after a Covid infection, but I’m seeing a deeper and more complex story with my clients than is not generally being reported in the news.
Long Covid is one of many “post-viral” syndromes that can cause a whole host of issues that may seem unrelated. Post-viral syndromes have been around for years, they’re what cause Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (aka chronic fatigue), and are suspected as one of the factors in other diseases as well. Long Covid and other post-viral illnesses happen when the body still has some of the virus circulating in a small amount, or when the body gets stuck in a cycle of inflammation from fighting off the illness, or both.
This is why you can have long Covid even if you never actually “got” Covid – we’ve all probably been exposed to the Covid virus at this point, and while some people didn’t get exposed to enough virus particles to cause full-blown Covid, they did get enough to cause long Covid. These people probably never tested positive for Covid because you need a certain amount of antibodies to test positive, and their antigen/antibody levels were too low to detect.
In addition, I think that the same people who have a higher risk of autoimmune issues from being in the freeze/fawn (aka people pleasing) nervous system response are also at a higher risk of getting long Covid. This is borne out somewhat by the data, which shows that the rate of long Covid among those that tested positive is 10.1% of men and 17.9% of women (women tend towards freeze/fawn more than men.) Although, I think the rate is even higher when you take into account that people can get long Covid without ever testing positive for Covid.
The symptoms of long Covid are varied and can look different in each person. Post-viral syndromes often have a few things in common, like fatigue and brain fog, but because Covid is an RNA virus and can cross the blood-brain barrier, there are a host of weirder symptoms that doctors may not think of as the typical post-viral issues. (If they even know about post-viral issues at all! This has historically been an area where medical gaslighting is rampant.)
Here are some of the symptoms of long Covid:
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort
- Brain fog (trouble thinking clearly or finding words)
- Short or long-term memory issues
- Depression or anxiety that often comes on quickly and then leaves
- Chills and night sweats or other sudden changes in body temperature
- Sleep problems
- New allergies to foods or your environment
- New sensitivities to odors, chemicals, light, touch, or noise
- Change or decrease in taste and smell
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, especially when climbing stairs or hills
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations) that comes and goes
- Muscle weakness and joint pain
- Pins-and-needles feelings in your arms and legs
- Warm or swollen legs or feet (if this is the case, please see a doctor immediately, it could be a blood clot)
- Digestive issues like diarrhea, stomach pain, or acid reflux
- Changes in appetite or types of food you crave
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Hair loss
- Weight gain or loss
- A general feeling of being “inflamed”
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, but if you’ve noticed any of these popping up in the last 3 years, it could be long Covid. Since long-covid affects so many body systems, I’d suggest finding a holistic practitioner to help you out, like a functional medicine doctor, a naturopath, or an energy healer (like me!) There are steps you can take to improve your symptoms and get your body into a better balance so that it can oust the Covid virus and start the healing process.