Post Covid Syndrome: How to Cope with it

Post Covid Syndrome continues long after recovery from COVID infection. Patients share their experiences and how they coped with them in this article.

Man holding post covid-19 signboard in front of a laptop

With the fresh wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant, most people have finally accepted that the pandemic won’t be going away anytime soon. For people with post covid syndrome, it seems like an unending battle with the virus. Even after they have recovered from the disease. Approximately 15-80% of people who have suffered from COVID-19 infection may suffer from long COVID, or post-COVID conditions, even if they were not very sick in the first place. 

A person is said to be suffering from post covid syndrome if they have health issues that persist for more than four weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19. For 45-year-old Mrs Lim, it has been four months since she has had the infection. “I have not been the same since I got infected last year. I feel extremely tired even after doing my daily housework. Before covid, I used to have a very active life. I would meet with my friends on evening walks and regularly go to the gym. Now, getting out of the house is an ordeal, and I feel like staying home and resting all the time.”

Symptoms of Post Covid Syndrome

Asian man with mask coughing and having a sore throat
Post covid syndrome can last months after recovery from COVID-19 infection

Symptoms of post covid syndrome vary in severity and nature. The range is wide and includes feeling breathless, having cough, joint pains, chest pain, muscle aches, headaches and palpitations. Other symptoms are loss of smell or taste, fever, dizziness when standing, diarrhoea, fever, stomach and chest pain, rash and changes in the menstrual cycle. Some people also suffer from memory issues, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety. Though COVID-19 mostly affects the lungs, the virus is capable of causing long-term damage to other organs as well. Long-term damage may occur in the heart and brain. It may also be responsible for some of these symptoms. 

For many, the harrowing experience of hospitalisation, being on ventilators in ICUs and the isolation from family and friends itself is enough to cause post-traumatic stress disorder, severe weakness, issues with thinking and judgement. As Mr Jayasurya recounts, “I was in the ICU for three weeks while most of my family members were also ill. I was so scared for my own life and that of my family as I could not meet them or even know how they were doing to make things worse. I was also worried about my business and how it would be able to tide through this period”. It has been two months since his illness. However, he still suffers from sleep disturbances and anxiety over finances, even though his business is doing well. 

The elders are not the only ones to suffer from post covid syndrome. Many children and adolescents with mild or severe COVID-19 infection still suffer from symptoms. For example, tiredness, trouble sleeping, headaches, trouble concentrating, muscle and joint pains and cough. Young Sumitra had a mild illness along with the rest of her family a month back. Her mother says she has been complaining of headaches and joint and muscle pains since then.

Recovering from Post Covid Syndrome

Asian woman with mask meditating in the open
Managing stress plays an important role in recovery from post covid syndrome

Recovery from post covid syndrome needs a holistic approach. However, the first step should be to inform your doctor of your symptoms. Also, to rule out serious conditions such as heart disease. It is also important to control any co-existing illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure or high blood pressure.

General wellbeing

Ensure you look after yourself even after your symptoms of COVID-19 infection subside. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Give your body adequate rest and get a good night’s sleep so that your body can recover. Limit your intake of alcohol as far as possible and quit smoking. If you experience pain, you can use simple painkillers such as acetaminophen. Try to keep yourself active and slowly incorporate an exercise routine into your life. Take it slow, and do not overexert yourself. Managing stress also plays an important role in recovery. Try meditation, yoga or mindful breathing to calm your emotions and reduce stress. Think positive. If you manage to overcome COVID-19 infection, you can also overcome post covid syndrome.

Rehabilitation

Many post covid syndrome symptoms can be improved using appropriate rehabilitation programs. For example, breathing exercises can help patients who experience breathlessness or shortness of breath if done regularly. Other rehabilitation programs include physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and also neurological rehabilitation.

Herbal remedies

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suggests using herbal remedies to alleviate the post covid symptoms. However, the treatment needs to be individualized based on the patient’s constitution. According to TCM Physician Brandon, it is important to seek the guidance of a TCM practitioner before trying these remedies. Some of the herbs formulations which can be used are Sheng Mai San, Gui Pi Wan, Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi, Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, Sha Shen Mai Dong Tang, Xie Bai San, Wei Ling Tang, Chai Hu Shu Gan San, Xiao Yao San, Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Dang Gui Nian Tong Tang, Xiao Chai Hu Tang, Qing Hao Bie Jia Dan and Dang Gui Yin Zi.

Acupressure

A collage of acupressure points that can help relieve post covid syndrome
These acupressure points can help reduce mild post-Covid symptoms.

Another easy self-help remedy that you can try is acupressure. You can use a blunt object like a massage stick or even your fingers to apply enough pressure to elicit a painful or aching sensation or numbness at certain acupoints. Massage each point in the clockwise and anti-clockwise direction in a circular motion 20 times each. Repeat the massage for at least 3 minutes for each acupoint. Some of the acupoints that you can use are: 

  • Zusanli ST36: On the anterior aspect of the lower leg, four fingers-breadth below the outer depression of the knee joint, one finger-breadth (middle finger) from the front of the shin bone 
  • Sanyinjiao SP6: On the inner lower leg, four-fingers-breadth above the tip of the inner ankle bone, just behind the shin bone 
  • Neiguan PC6: On the front of the forearm, three-fingers breadth above the transverse crease of the wrist 
  • Hegu LI4: On the back of the hand, between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones 
  • TaichongLR3: On the dorsum of the foot, in the depression proximal to the 1st metatarsal space 
  • Baihui DU20: On the top of the head, approximately at the midpoint of the line connecting the tips of the two ears. 
  • Taiyang EX-HN5: At the temples, in the depression about one finger-breadth behind the midpoint between the outer end of the eyebrow and the outer tip of the eye. 
  • Shenmen HT7:On the wrist, at the ulnar end of the transverse crease of the wrist, in the depression on the radial side of the tendon m. flexor carpi ulnaris. 
  • Danzhong RN17: On the anterior median line of the chest, at the level of the 4th intercostal space, at the midpoint between the two nipples 

Acupressure can help to relieve the mild post covid symptoms. However, do seek the help of a professional if your symptoms persist or are more severe. Besides these remedies, a TCM practitioner may also advise moxibustion, acupuncture, cupping and tuina based on the body constitution of each patient. 

The pandemic is far from over, and we need to learn to live with COVID and the illnesses that come along with it. Thankfully, our natural remedies and healing knowledge can help us cope and overcome the pandemic. Restore your health with natural remedies today!

References

  1. AMA. 2021. What doctors wish patients knew about long COVID.  [Accessed 31 January 2022]
  2. US National Library of Medicine. 2021. Post Acute Coronavirus (COVID-19) Syndrome. [Accessed 31 January 2022]
  3. Mayo Clinic. 2021. Post-COVID syndrome: Feeling effect over the long haul.  [Accessed 31 January 2022]
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021. Management of Post-COVID Conditions.  [Accessed 31 January 2022] 

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