Long COVID-19 and Post-viral Fatigue

There are estimated to be up to 80,000 people with long-COVID in the UK and we are all familiar with the term, but perhaps not that there are different forms of it: post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the experience of intensive care; lasting organ damage; symptoms that vary around the body and post-viral fatigue. It is post-viral fatigue that I am going to focus on here because that is what we can have most control over and even prevent in terms of COVID-19 and other viral infections.

Post-viral fatigue (PVF) is most closely associated with infection with Epstein Barr Virus (glandular fever), H1N1 (swine flu) and more recently coronavirus (COVID-19). Post-viral fatigue is similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) and fibromyalgia.

Symptoms of long-COVID PVF, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia include:

  • Unexplained tenderness or pain in muscles

  • Pain in several joints

  • Feeling worse after exertion

  • Sore/tender lymph nodes

  • New headache

  • Palpitations

  • Intolerance to alcohol and/or caffeine

  • Bloating/abdominal pain/IBS

  • Racing mind/unable to switch off

  • Excessive worry

  • Impaired concentration and memory

  • Non-refreshing sleep

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue.

As self-help author and speaker Louise Hay said, ‘The problem is rarely the problem.’ The symptoms that are perceived as the problem are just the tip of the iceberg; it is the underlying causative factors that are the real problem, and not just in post-viral fatigue, but so many other health problems. It is the adverse childhood experiences, the trauma, the unprocessed loss, the lifestyle and career choices, the toxic relationships, the stress that are the real cause of dis-ease and something like a virus that is the tipping point...

The NHS is increasingly employing health coaching based on the biopsychosocial model to help patients recover from PVF and other fatigue conditions. Role-model medicine also plays a crucial part in recovery as it is important to see that others have recovered and to learn how they did it. Self-care is so important to the prevention of and recovery from PVF and requires a multi-faceted approach to address the causative factors. Gentle exercise, like qigong, and treatments can be a part of that. For more about the qigong classes that I run, see the qigong section of my website. If you would like to schedule a massage or reflexology treatment, you can book through the Formula Health website or on 0118 418 1825.