Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists and doctors all over the world have been trying to gauge the long-term effects of COVID-19. From the patients who were in the ICU with COVID and are now dealing with Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS), to those who had mild or moderate COVID and question ongoing breathing issues, fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, and more, there is still much to learn about the long-term impact COVID will have on the health of our community.
If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 – whether asymptomatic or symptomatic – and are noticing that you still don’t feel like yourself, you may be experiencing Post-Covid Syndrome. In a special edition of our podcast, Dr. Michelle Collie speaks with Infectious Disease expert, Curt Beckwith, MD on this condition.
What is Long Covid?
Researchers have estimated that about 10% of COVID-19 patients, no matter the severity of their symptoms, are experiencing symptoms after four weeks of illness. These people have been referred to as “long-haulers” as they have taken significantly more time to recover from COVID-19. These lingering symptoms will often worsen after exercise or intense physical and mental activity:
Shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain
Depression & anxiety
Reactivation of fevers
What Should I Do If I Have Post-Covid Syndrome?
Call a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists are experts in movement and the musculoskeletal system. As Post-Covid Syndrome affects your body’s ability to react normally to exercise, your physical therapist will be able to help you recover and manage your symptoms safely. They will also communicate with your primary care physicians to ensure that you are getting the best and most complete care possible. During your physical therapy treatment, your PT will help you regain your:
Start with breathing exercises
Your breath is a powerful tool to help lower stress, slow the heartbeat, and stabilize blood pressure. Focus on deep breathing exercises to keep your lungs safe and healthy.
Don’t push or challenge yourself when exercising
Since your body has gone through so much, give it more time than you think you’ll need before you return to your normal exercise routine. Listen to your body and give yourself the rest that it requires. If you jump into your normal activities too quickly, you could be putting yourself at serious risk for heart and lung issues. We recommend a gradual return to walking, so you can slowly work your way up to a moderate-intensity workout. When you feel comfortable with long walks, you can begin strength training with exercises against gravity two to three times a week, progressing by adding resistance gradually over the course of a few weeks.
Ensure adequate nutrition and sleep routine
From sleep and mindfulness to nutrition and stretching, your body’s overall health and wellness has so many moving pieces that work with each other. If one of these areas is lacking, you’re likely experiencing side effects with another, which is why you can lose sleep if you’re anxious or feel dizzy if you haven’t eaten enough. Although focusing on these areas will not immediately heal your post-covid symptoms, it will certainly help your body recover faster.
Performance Physical Therapy is here to help you recover so you can get back to the life you love. Contact us at 401-726-7100 to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist in Rhode Island or Massachusetts.