While some people bounce back from COVID-19, others may take weeks or months to recover.
When symptoms persist after the original infection, this is known as long COVID.
If you or a loved one has been affected by long COVID, know that there are lots of things you can do to aid your recovery.
We’re going to take a look at what to expect in your recovery from long COVID in this guide and suggest some ways to help you get back to full health.
What exactly is long COVID and who gets it?
If your symptoms continue for more than four weeks after your original COVID infection, then you are considered to have long COVID.
Data collected in the UK by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) found that people were more likely to get long COVID if they belonged to the following groups:
- People aged 35 to 49
- People with health conditions that limit their activities
- People working in education, health or social care
- People living in more deprived areas
What are long COVID symptoms?
These are some common long COVID symptoms:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Chest pain
- Changes in your sense of smell or taste
- Anxiety or low mood
Less common symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty remembering things
- Digestive issues
- Skin rashes
What is long COVID treatment?
There are no drug treatments that target long COVID. Instead, patients are advised to manage their symptoms and build up their strength.
How to manage fatigue
Fatigue is perhaps the most common symptom of long COVID. It can lead to other problems such as difficulty thinking clearly and anxiety, so it’s important to take it seriously.
Here’s what you can do to manage fatigue:
- Get into a bedtime routine to ensure good quality sleep
- Eat a healthy diet, full of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids to keep hydrated
- Break up your tasks throughout the day
- Rest as often as you need to
- Get family and friends to help you out with chores such as cleaning and shopping
- Build up physical activity slowly so you don’t put a strain on your body
How to manage fever
Some people with long COVID find that they suffer from fevers. To manage this symptom, you can:
- Keep track of your temperature with a reliable thermometer. Know that a normal temperature is 36-37°C, so if your temperature is 38°C or higher, then you most likely have a fever.
- Stay hydrated with fruit juice, water or other clear non-alcoholic drinks regularly.
- Wear cool, lightweight clothing made from natural materials like cotton.
- Keep your environment at a comfortable temperature.
- Use cooling products such as patches to help you feel more comfortable.
- You can also take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve your symptoms.
You should seek medical help immediately if your fever doesn’t go away after a few days or if you experience:
- A severe headache
- Sensitivity to bright light
- An unusual rash
- A stiff neck
- Breathing difficulties
- Abdominal pain
- A seizure
How to manage cough and breathlessness
Another persistent symptom of long COVID is cough and/or breathlessness. Try the following self-help tips:
- Use steam inhalation to clear phlegm (mucus). Pour hot water into a bowl and sit over it with a towel over your head.
- Lie down flat to drain phlegm.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink warm fluids if you also have a sore throat.
- Ask your doctor to show you breathing control exercises.
- Improve air circulation indoors by keeping a window open.
How to manage low mood
It’s understandable if you feel depressed or anxious when you’ve been unwell for a long time.
But you can take some simple steps to improve your low mood by:
- Reaching out to family and friends to share your feelings
- Trying some self-care activities like taking a warm bath, spending time in nature or doing a home manicure or pedicure
- Practising mindfulness or meditation
- Keeping a journal to record your feelings
- Doing any activity you enjoy, whether that’s singing along to the radio, playing with your kids or just spending some quiet time alone
- Taking natural supplements like magnesium, which can have a positive effect on mood
Gently easing you back to full health
Remember that having long COVID doesn’t mean a life sentence! First of all, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how you are feeling. They will help reassure you that long COVID will pass in time.
And try our self-help tips too, which will make you feel like you are playing an active role in your recovery.
You’ll find many health and well-being products in our online shop such as cooling products, thermometers and more. Let us help relieve the long-term symptoms of COVID and gently ease you back into the full health you deserve.