Q & A About Post Covid Fatigue
If you've had Covid, then you have probably experienced this.
Because yup. This is what's going on right now. Lasting 4 minutes on the treadmill at 1.8mph when last week it was 1 hour at 2.4mph with no tiredness at all is a big difference.
So I took to the internet for some information. I used these sites to get my information, in case you'd like to fact check or learn more: NIH, NHS.UK, RCOT.CO.UK, and the Mayo Clinic's article about it.
What is it like?
It's basically the symptoms that happen during a covid infection and afterward that after the "cold symptoms" go away. They include the inability to perform or feel the same as before the infection.The symptoms include lack of stamina to do daily activities or work out, muscle stiffness or weakness, headache, chest pain, joint pain, lingering cough, dizziness or inability to feel centered when upright, worsened symptoms after exertion, brain fog, confusion, delay in mental processing, and even more.
How long can it last?
The least amount of time seems to be 5-8 days after infection, but most people seem to kick these symptoms within 2 weeks of initial recovery of the respiratory symptoms, but it's extremely common (like one study cited 50% of participants reporting this) for it to take 4 weeks to kick these symptoms. Or longer in some cases, depending on the severity of the illness itself.
Why does this happen?
So thinking about a normal cold, I'd say it usually takes me a couple days after symptoms are gone to feel like normal again. This isn't always the case with Covid it seems. But all evidence seems to point to the fact that this is supposed to be normal when recovering from a viral infection. Covid causes more inflammation in general and it takes a bit for the body to regulate that. Inflammation makes movement more strenuous, as those that work out know. It's also the body's natural immune response to allow further healing and to prevent you from engaging in physically stressful activities. So you're supposed to be tired. It'll apparently go away when it's ready to, when you're ready inside. It sounds like this is your physical body deciding for you, not your mind.... Interesting.
So what do you do about it?
I guess not much. We're being told to allow ourselves to rest, to allow more time to get things done. You aren't supposed to go completely inactive, but pace yourself in activities and only do what your body allows you to do. You aren't supposed to push past that. One site recommended keeping track day-to-day what you can and cannot do, so you can track your progress over time. I wish I remember which site that was- I found that a few days ago. They also said to just learn and accept that this is a normal part of the healing process and that you absolutely shouldn't stress about it. Adding stress and anxiety to the mix hinders your healing- which I've definitely read in non-Covid-related research too. They also stay to stick to your routine because change isn't good for the body either.
So what am I doing?
I'm committing to doing a workout each morning like I always do. But the difference is I'm taking note of my speeds and times. I'm only pushing myself to do what I can, and nothing more. I'm doing very simple exercises, some ab work, some arm circles, some bodyweight exercises that are VERY modified down. I just want to check what I am capable of and nothing more. I don't want to go backwards. And I don't want to not try.
I ate like crap over the past week. It probably didn't help. I'm going to stick to foods that are nutritionally high, in order to restore my immune system.When are they saying to get it checked out?If nothing improves after 4 weeks. So... super fun, right? I find when I'm sitting, I have exactly the amount of energy I'm supposed to have. But moving around is a totally different story.
I guess apparently this is normal for Covid, and we just have to wait it out.