I Have COVID-19!
The Virus Found Me!
After over two years into the pandemic, COVID-19 finally found me! I have taken all of the recommended precautions with a high level of diligence since my husband has a compromised immune system. Nevertheless, the virus found me, and I have not been this ill for a very long time.
My COVID Experience
Early last week I was ticking along as I normally do. Feeling healthy, happy, and optimistic. I was up to date with my COVID vaccines, had been taking some precautions although not wearing a mask as much as I had previously, my diet was healthy, I had a good supplement routine, I was happily walking 3-4 miles daily with my dog, and life seemed great.
I had my 4th COVID shot (booster) scheduled for Wednesday, June 1st, and went to that appointment and successfully had my vaccine.
That evening, I had the expected post vaccine sore arm, but actually noticed that both arms were very sore and thought that was odd. I had been having a flare up of my dry eye disease (DED) for a couple of days, and my tinnitus (ringing in the ears) was louder recently for some reason. I didn’t think too much of those things but then remembered the other thing that was a little different was that my singing voice had been “hoarse” at a choir rehearsal the evening prior (I was wearing a mask). Just because of those odd symptoms, I decided to take a COVID test Wednesday night, and it thankfully came out negative so I went to bed.
My reaction later that night, however, was severe… teeth chattering chills, fever, my entire body ached, headache, pressure in my head, my dry eyes were so bad that I felt like my eyelids were stuck to my eyeballs, my tinnitus was blaring very loud… I did not sleep. It was a much more severe “reaction” to the vaccine than I had had with any of the others.
Positive… And Miserable!
The next day I took another COVID test and it was positive. And, like I said above, I have been in bed for the last 4 days. My fever has been high for most of that time in between rounds of Tylenol – 102 degrees. I have had persistent body aches, chills, fatigue, congestion, headache, terribly dry eyes, very loud tinnitus, sneezing, and a dry harsh cough. I know I can get through this, but what I am most concerned about is the possibility of having damage done to my body from this virus that could cause chronic problems or lasting symptoms.
Here Is My Concern… COVID-19 Can Become Chronic
It is not the fact that I am really ill right now and can’t manage to do anything but rest, hydrate, and sleep and rest, hydrate, and sleep. It is the fact that the COVID-19 virus has the capacity to significantly damage the body, affecting us both physically and mentally. For some, this chronic version of COVID is life changing… and not for the better.
Chronic COVID (PASC)
Most have probably heard the term “Long COVID” being thrown around. In attempt to clarify the vague term, the medical community has now labeled this Post Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 or PASC. For convenience, I will refer to PASC for the remainder of my writing here. PASC is an umbrella term that encompasses symptoms which persist beyond the 4 week period of acute COVID-19 infection. Under this umbrella, the ongoing illness is broken into two groups, Subacute or Ongoing COVID-19 and Post-COVID-19 Syndrome.
Subacute COVID is defined as persistent/ongoing symptoms beyond the expected 4 weeks of acute infection and lasting up to 12 weeks.
Post COVID-19 Syndrome
Post COVID-19 Syndrome is also known as “Long COVID” or Long-Haulers’ syndrome. Symptoms in this scenario become chronic beyond 12 weeks from acute infection and can last beyond a year.
Symptoms of PASC
The most common symptoms of PASC are fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive impairment (“brain fog”) including loss of concentration and memory, headache, body aches, cough, changes in smell or taste, and diarrhea.
Prevalence of PASC
In April 2022, based on a meta analysis of 41 studies Global Prevalence of PASC was 43% of those infected – 54% in hospitalized patient and 34% in non-hospitalized patients. Overall global prevalence 120 days after infection was 49%. The most common symptoms reported were fatigue (23%) followed by memory changes (14%). In my opinion, these figures are astounding and frightening.
Functional Medicine for Holistic Management of COVID-19
Functional medicine and holistic strategies seem to be very helpful in managing COVID-19 infections. Furthermore, these strategies can be helpful on their own or in combination with with more traditional medical treatment.
Acute COVID-19 Infections
In addition to traditional medical treatment for the COVID-19 virus, supplements that have been shown effective for treatment of acute COVID-19 infection are zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Lactoferrin, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Hesperidin. These work to support the immune response, lower inflammation, regulate iron balance, block viral replication, and reduce the severity of disease. You should not take supplements without first consulting with your health care provider.
In particular, Vitamin D levels in the body are significant when it comes to COVID-19. Studies have indicated a link between low vitamin D levels at the time of infection and greater severity of disease.
Treatment for PASC
Current research indicates a variety of potential holistic healing strategies that seem promising for treatment of PASC.
A study done in March 2022 concluded that “personalized nutrition plans represent the best strategy to ensure recovery (from Long COVID)“. This is a reminder that FOOD IS MEDICINE. Nutritional recommendations are key to addressing Long COVID.
Many supplements help protect against oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and cognitive decline, the most common findings in PASC. Promising supplements include Acetyl L-carnitine, Lysine, Hydroxytyrosol, Vitamins B, C, D, E, and Bioflavonoids.
Bioflavonoids are nutritional compounds found in some foods. These phytonutrients have been shown to have significant anti-viral properties. In particular, quercetin, curcumin, and luteolin show promising results. Bioflavonoids can assist with zinc absorption in the body, and zinc is know for it’s strong antiviral properties.
Bioflavonoids are found in berries, red cabbage, onions, kale, parsley, tea, red wine, dark chocolate, citrus fruits and soy beans. You can also take these phyto-compounds as supplements, but not without first consulting with your health care provider.
One cautionary note in regards to bioflavonoids is that growing foods chemically, DRASTICALLY lowers the bioflavonoid content. Additionally bioflavonoids have a short lived effect in our bodies. For this reason, we must consume them very regularly to sustain the effect.
The Current State of COVID-19
The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change daily. Here are some of the most recent messages to consider.
New Variants Continue to Emerge
And the virus is smart. It reconfigures so that it can spread easier and cause just the right amount of illness to keep it’s livelihood barreling forward. We are not out of this yet.
The Vaccines are Effective, HOWEVER…
There is pretty significant waning immunity over time following vaccination. For this reason, it is important to stay current with the booster recommendations and get those that you are eligible for.
Current Treatments May or May Not Be Helpful
There are some helpful antiviral and other types of medications for treatment of COVID-19 during the acute infection. Some are beneficial for some strains of COVID-19, but not necessarily for the newer variants. Research continues to evolve with new treatments emerging as the virus continues to mutate.
A Function Medicine Approach Works Well to Address COVID-19
Functional medicine is a scientific approach that emphasizes finding the root cause of symptoms. Treatment approaches are holistic and often include nutritional strategies, lifestyle management, and supplements. Evidence is increasingly supportive of this approach, in particular for PASC.
Reducing Your Risk of COVID-19 and PASC (Long COVID)
Overall, our best bet it to continue moving forward with caution in regards to the COVID-19 virus. Prevention of the disease should remain first and foremost in our minds. In that regard, here are my final recommendations.
Do all you can to prevent exposure and transmission by staying current with vaccine recommendations. Practice good hand washing, social distancing measures when necessary, and mask wearing as appropriate.
Take Good Care of Yourself.
Reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most importantly, prioritize good nutrition, attend to sleep quality and quantity, stress reduction, regular activity, avoiding smoking, avoid or reduce alcohol consumption. If you have chronic illnesses, do everything you can to manage them well.
Monitor Your Vitamin D Level
You should consider having your vitamin D levels checked with the goal of maintaining a healthy level of 50-60 on serum test. Discuss with your health provider whether you should take a vitamin D supplement to maintain a health blood level. Vitamin D supplements contained in a gel capsule or a liposomal suspension are the most effective. This ensures the best absorption by the body.
Increase bioflavonoids in your diet by eating a wide variety of colorful, organically growth fruits and vegetables every day.
I Am Grateful For My Good Health
As for me, I am feeling a little bit better every day now. The fever and body aches have gone. My congestion and cough are improving daily. I now feel a deep sense of fatigue and brain fog, but getting better. My hope is that I will not be one of those who contract PASC. I am doing everything I can to pour in the nutrition and hydration. I am practicing stress reduction with self Reiki. Sleep and rest have become priorities to ensure the best chances of avoiding the chronic scenario that can occur with the COVID-19 infection.
I hope that this information has been helpful to you. Please email me if you have questions at email@example.com. Take good care of yourselves, and remember that we are not fully out of this pandemic yet!
Disclaimer: This document is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. For my full Disclaimer, please go to www.valenciasage.com.
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