Although the height of the COVID pandemic is behind us, the virus is still active in the U.S. and producing significant illness. Fortunately, there are additional medical tools aiding doctors in their fight against the virus. Even with our current treatment options, though, between 10 and 20 percent of people hospitalized for COVID will develop long COVID complications.
Long COVID is the term given to COVID symptoms that persist for more than three months. Most COVID cases resolve within a month of onset. If you’re still feeling the effects of the virus a few months after being diagnosed, it’s time to consider treatment options for long COVID.
What are the Symptoms and Complications of Long COVID?
Long COVID is associated with a large variety of symptoms and complications. The most common include:
- Recurring fever
- Respiratory issues, such as cough and shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance and reduced lung capacity
Long COVID is also associated with less common complications that reach beyond the respiratory system. They include:
- Body pains, including joint and muscle pains
- Cardiovascular issues, including chest pain, elevated heartbeat, and blood clots
- Pulmonary embolisms (a blood clot that gets trapped in the legs and blocks blood flow to the lungs), which is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Neurological symptoms, including brain fog, difficulty focusing, headache, loss of balance, depression, anxiety, loss of smell or taste, insomnia and physical sensations that feel like pins and needles
- Digestive symptoms, including abdominal pain and diarrhea
As you can see, there are many complications of long COVID, and these can persist for months in some cases.
How Can People Reduce Chances of Developing Long COVID?
The best way to deal with long COVID is to avoid it in the first place. As controversial as they are, it does appear that the vaccinations are the first option in preventing long COVID. That’s not because the vaccines prevent infection – in fact, the data shows that vaccinated people are getting sick just as often as the unvaccinated. What vaccines do is reduce the severity of illness if someone is infected with COVID.
In the large majority of cases, the virus is something people can get over without significant medical support. Among high-risk patients, including the elderly and people with chronic disease, the COVID virus is a greater threat. These patients are more likely to require hospitalization if they catch the virus, and long COVID is far more likely among people who are hospitalized with the virus.
The best way for these high-risk patients to avoid long COVID is to get vaccinated. Even if that doesn’t prevent infection, it does greatly reduce the chances of experiencing serious illness that requires a hospital trip.
In addition to vaccination, you can reduce the chances of developing long COVID by making good health decisions. Eating right, getting enough sleep, getting daily exercise, and maintaining low levels of stress all boost your immune system’s effectiveness in fighting the virus.
Eastern Medicine Can Help With Symptoms of Long COVID
People who do develop long COVID, though, can attain relief through eastern medical practices. Long COVID cannot be adequately targeted by most drug therapies, so medications are generally only effective in short-term resolution of symptoms. And, of course, those medications can produce undesirable adverse effects in patients.
Western medicine has provided doctors with excellent preventative tools in the form of COVID vaccines. However, eastern medicine is particularly well-adapted to treated systemic conditions like those produced by long COVID.
How can eastern medicine help with the symptoms of long COVID?
- By considering the patient’s whole-body health – The eastern medical philosophy is predicated on supporting whole-body health. Illnesses are not generally reduced to the organs they affect, but the effects they have on the entire body.This philosophy is well-suited for treating long COVID because the virus isn’t just confined to the respiratory system. Eventually, it will reach deeper tissues in the body, and this may be what causes the symptoms associated with long COVID. Eastern medical practitioners work to prevent this from happening by bolstering the patient’s overall ability to fight pathogens and recover from illness.
- By offering low risk treatments with a proven record of success – Eastern medicine relies on a handful of tools, all of which pose minimal risk of adverse effects, as long as they are properly dosed and administered. This is one reason why eastern medicine is a popular adjunct therapeutic option, as it provides excellent support without putting the patient’s overall quality of life at risk.
The preferred tools for eastern medical practitioners are acupuncture and herbal therapy. Acupuncture and herbal therapy, when administered by a licensed practitioner, can provide broad relief against the many complications of long COVID. In particular, eastern modalities are effective against fatigue, pain, stress, anxiety, sleep issues, cardiovascular issues, and many other conditions. The medical literature supports this, which is why millions of people in the U.S. are including acupuncture and herbal therapies into their treatment regimen.
This approach can also help with the effects of long COVID. While you shake off the long-term symptoms of the illness, eastern medicine can support your whole-body health and help you recover faster