Long-COVID / Post-COVID
Since you are on this page, you probably have or suspect you have Long COVID.
Otherwise, you may be interested in this topic for some other reason.
This page provides information about long-term complaints after a COVID infection, not about problems after vaccination for COVID.
NB! Long COVID or Post COVID Syndrome is not necessarily a brain injury! It can cause neurological and neuropsychological complaints. Brain damage can occur as a complication after a COVID infection. Scientists have demonstrated a brain inflammation after death in some people with Long COVID. A lot of research is being done on this. As soon as more information is known, we will post it here.
We have a special page about neurological complaints and syndromes as a complication after COVID infection.
Possible long-term complaints after COVID infection
After a COVID infection people may continue to have many complaints:
- severe fatigue, lethargy, head/muscle/joint pain,
- palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, orthostatic intolerance/dysautonomia (POTS)
- concentration/memory problems,
- hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli and to cognitive stimuli,
- insomnia, anxiety / frustration / depression / sadness,
- persistent COVID symptoms, all kinds of complaints in your body (for example: coughing, fever, temperature changes, night sweats, shortness of breath, less or no smell (hyposmia / anosmia))
- alternating good / bad days.
This is a selection of the large number of complaints that people may experience with Long COVID. The complaints can last a long time and can have a major impact on daily life, physical and mental health, social contacts and work. The complaints often become worse after exertion.
If you have complaints for more than three months, it is referred to as long-term (Long) COVID. COVID can, among other things, disrupt your immune system and autonomic nervous system.
COVID may disrupt the immune system and the autonomic nervous system
The immune system protects you against diseases and infections, but is not always resistant to a COVID attack. Your cells pick it up, but continue to fight back and attack the virus. This can cause the immune system to enter a state of stress, whereby all kinds of immune substances are activated and react overactively. Remaining virus particles can also cause problems. This causes your immune system to be activated again and again because there appears to be an inflammatory response.
The autonomic nervous system regulates automatic processes such as: breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, digestion. It consists of two systems: an 'accelerator pedal' for action, which costs energy. A 'brake' for rest, this provides relaxation and recovery. The brain stem controls the autonomic nervous system and also influences, for example, alertness and sleeping / waking up. The vagus nerve is the nerve that carries information about the condition of the organs to the brain and signals from the brain to the organs. This nerve plays a major role in various functions and returns the body from the action position to rest. Normally the body automatically maintains a good balance, but COVID has disrupted this balance and significantly disrupted automaticity. The body and brain are therefore constantly in survival mode, day and night action in the body.
It is understandable that this can cause many complaints throughout the body. The intensity and complaints of Long COVID are therefore very diverse and sometimes last a long time. Children of all ages can also experience the same complaints! It is important to go to the doctor if the complaints persist, so that any examinations and paramedical recovery care can start. This is recovery care in addition to medical care and can consist of: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, exercise therapy, speech therapy. The general practitioner / medical specialist assesses whether recovery care is necessary and refers if this is the case. This is often done, because recovering without help is very difficult. The body is disrupted, which means that people often cross the line unnoticed.
Long COVID is called a multisystem disease.
Cognitive complaints and sensory overstimulation
COVID can cause cognitive complaints (thinking, understanding, organizing, remembering). This can cause serious problems
Cognitive and concentration problems, cognitive overstimulation,
brain fog. Cognitive complaints are often very difficult to accept and can cause a lot of uncertainty.
That is understandable, it is confrontational and frustrating. You can't think of words or mix them up, feel tired and foggy and can't remember things. You have chaos in your head. If this bothers you a lot, try to exercise outside and relax if possible.
Focus on your breathing and take your time, also to find the right words. Working against it worsens the complaints. Try to get enough sleep and not ask too much of yourself. Give yourself some rest.
All the stimuli around you can hit your brain hard, because the stimulus processing has been disrupted by COVID. This can cause headaches, tinnitus, fatigue and inability to tolerate sounds, light and movements.
Get to know these signals from your body well. If your system is disrupted, a small stimulus can cause an imbalance. A quiet environment is therefore important, silence. Mental effort is also effort, even if you are sitting on the couch. Try to limit your screen time. Explaining your situation can be helpful. Understanding is important, misunderstanding often causes a lot of stress.
Because you are ill, you now have a completely different life, which can cause mental complaints. Frustration, sadness, anxiety, gloom and irritability. Try to accept your situation, this is happening to you. Try to find a way to relax yourself. If you notice that you are stuck, don't keep walking around with this but share it with someone close to you or your doctor. These are invisible consequences of Long COVID, but important to pay attention to.
What you can do yourself to recover
Now that you know more about Long COVID, many complaints may have already been explained. Sometimes it suddenly falls into place. It is important to get to know the signals your body gives and listen to them. This takes time and energy, but can ultimately lead to fewer complaints and more inner peace. Calm your body regularly by consciously relaxing and calming your nervous system. This can be done by:
- control breathing as much as possible and pay particular attention to proper exhalation
- alternating effort and rest, alternating mental and physical activities
- rest without telephone, TV, visitors
- take several short rest moments, for example twenty minutes of low-stimulus rest
- stop exerting yourself before you get tired, relax and do breathing exercises regularly.
The page about Long-COVID on our Dutch website was written by Marjan van Herk, author of the book (in Dutch) 'Je ziet er gezond uit, fysiek en cognitief overmeesterd door het virus'.
This page is a translation of the Dutch page.
Research has recently shown that physical activity causes more damage to muscle tissue in people with Long COVID.
Furthermore the mitochondria, the power plants in the cells, function less well in people with Long COVID. See here.
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