Two years on, the COVID-19 pandemic appears far from over. Many people have managed to get sick and recover repeatedly, but some never fully recovered. The condition when symptoms last for 3, 6, 9 months, or even longer, is called long-haul COVID, long COVID, or chronic COVID.
It typically manifests itself in muscle ache, fatigue, sore throats, chest pain, and perpetual loss of smell. And one of the most common symptoms is memory loss and depression, also known as brain fog. Patients complain that it takes more effort to maintain day-to-day life. It's hard to collect data regarding the number of people suffering from long COVID, but the problem is evidently significant.
What do the doctors say? Unfortunately, optimal treatment for Long COVID has not been found yet. We don't have any one-size-fits-all medicine that can cure all the symptoms, but still, some rehabilitation strategies can be helpful.
Doctors recommend working with a therapist initially once or twice over the course of a month. The patient also should do some homework to get cognitive functions back. The treatment has to be multidisciplinary in nature, which means that it can include not only a therapist but also rehab professionals, social care workers, psychosocial workers, and mental health professionals.
Another general piece of advice is to increase the number of physical activities in a patient's life. It's really important to start building up muscular strength. It's been discovered that a person loses 2% of the muscle mass each day during the illness. For those who happen to feel unusually tired, visiting an occupational therapist is recommended.
Sometimes Long COVID patients face trouble with breathing, swallowing, or speaking. It happens because these patients produce more phlegm (sputum) than normal. It's important to let the phlegm get out of your lungs, otherwise, it will be accumulating which causes infections and inflammation.
There is a certain method called the Active Style Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques (ACBT). Basically, it includes several cycles of breathing control, deep breathing, and huffing. The first step, breathing control, is breathing gently, preferably through the nose, using as little effort as possible and trying to relax. The next step is a deep breath in with a sigh-like breath out. Can be done with or without holding breath. Step three is exhaling through the open mouth with the help of tummy muscles. And the last step is taking a deep breath in and then huffing the air out quickly to clear the lungs without coughing.
The tips above are supposed to make long-haul COVID patients' life easier. Although we still don't know enough about this condition, we already have some information which may be useful.
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