Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction
Like our patients with a mild traumatic brain injury, many Long COVID patients typically show signs of autonomic nervous system dysfunction.
The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system . The SNS is often described as driving the fight or flight response, whereas the PNS leads to a calmer rest and digest reaction.
In other words, the SNS prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, dilating pupil size, and stimulating breathing patterns. In contrast, the PNS helps the body slow down, and it includes functions like stimulating digestion, lowering heart rate, and reducing breathing rates.
The autonomic nervous system interacts with almost every organ in the body.
In Long COVID patients, ANS dysfunction usually involves an overactive SNS, while the PNS becomes more subdued. This condition, known as dysautonomia, can manifest itself through many symptoms, such as blood pressure changes, heart palpitations, exercise intolerance, incontinence, temperature sensitivity, and shortness of breath.
Slow, deep breathing stimulates the activity of the vagus nerve, which is part of the PNS. The vagus nerve controls the activity of many internal organs, and when this nerve is stimulated, it can lower heart rate, improve blood pressure, and regulate breathing patterns.
What This Means For You
The best way to protect yourself from getting sick from Omicron and other COVID-19 variants is to be fully vaccinated and receive a booster shot, if eligible. Wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing will also minimize your risk of infection and spreading the virus to others.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
Symptoms Of Long Covid
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness
- problems with memory and concentration
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
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How Do I Prevent Long
The best way to avoid post-COVID-19 complications is to prevent infection with the coronavirus in the first place. Practicing coronavirus precautions and getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to you are effective ways to avoid getting COVID-19.
Understanding the seriousness of COVID-19 and its potential for long-term, debilitating symptoms is good motivation for protecting yourself and others by wearing a face mask consistently and properly whenever you are around people from outside your household maintaining physical distance of at least six feet from people outside of your household and practicing careful hand hygiene.
What To Watch Out For
According to a review of 13 studies published in the Journal of Infection, having shortness of breath poses a greater risk of severe and critical disease outcomes with COVID-19.
While close monitoring at home is often recommended for mild cases of breath shortness, the safest course of action is to call your primary care doctor if youre unsure of what to do.
Persistent or worsening shortness of breath can lead to a critical health condition known as hypoxia.
When you cant breathe properly, it can cause your oxygen saturation levels to drop below 90 percent. This can deprive your brain of oxygen. When this happens, confusion, lethargy, and other mental disruptions may occur.
In severe cases, if oxygen levels dip to around 80 percent or lower, theres an increased risk of damage to vital organs.
Ongoing shortness of breath is a symptom of pneumonia, which can progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome . This is a progressive type of lung failure in which fluid fills up the air sacs in your lungs.
With ARDS, breathing becomes increasingly difficult as stiff, fluid-filled lungs have a harder time expanding and contracting. In some cases, help breathing with mechanical ventilation is needed.
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Is Heart Damage Caused By Covid
Post says that if symptoms are due to a cardiac cause, recovery depends on the severity of injury. Very few people have a severe heart attack, such as an acute myocardial infarction, or MI, due to COVID-19, she says.
Still, heart imaging can reveal minor changes in the heart muscle of some COVID-19 survivors. Post notes that some studies on athletes recovering from the coronavirus have shown some scarring, but stresses that some of these studies did not compare these results with those who had not had COVID-19. How long these minor changes persist and how they affect heart health are not yet known. Experts are developing protocols and recommendations for which athletes should get cardiac testing before returning to play.
COVID-19 can also affect the strength of the heart pumping, Post says, but subtle abnormalities in heart pumping are not likely to cause people problems.
A person recovering from COVID-19 may benefit from physical therapy, breathing exercises, and most of all, time. Post advises anyone recovering from COVID-19 should expect a gradual course of recovery, and should not expect a rapid return to their normal activity levels.
One Of The Symptoms Of Covid
Shortness of breath refers to unexpectedly feeling out of breath, or winded. But when should you worry about shortness of breath? There are many examples of temporary shortness of breath that are not worrisome. For example, if you feel very anxious, it’s common to get short of breath and then it goes away when you calm down.
However, if you find that you are ever breathing harder or having trouble getting air each time you exert yourself, you always need to call your doctor. That was true before we had COVID-19, and it will still be true after it is over.
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Is Shortness Of Breath One Of The First Symptoms Of Covid
COVID-19-related shortness of breath usually occurs a few days after initial infection. However, some people may not develop this symptom at all.
On average, it sets in between day 4 and 10 of the disease course. It typically follows milder symptoms, such as:
- body aches
According to doctors observations while working in a clinic, the onset of shortness of breath, along with sudden drops in oxygen saturation after very little exertion, may help clinicians distinguish COVID-19 from other common illnesses.
Shortness of breath on its own usually rules out COVID-19. But when it occurs with other key symptoms, such as fever and cough, the likelihood of having an infection with SARS-CoV-2 increases.
The reports that 31 to 40 percent of people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have experienced shortness of breath.
The occurrence of other symptoms is as follows:
- fever: 83 to 99 percent
- cough: 59 to 82 percent
- fatigue: 44 to 70 percent
- loss of appetite: 40 to 84 percent
- sputum production: 28 to 33 percent
- muscle, body aches: 11 to 35 percent
Another CDC study of confirmed cases in the United States found that shortness of breath occurred in about 43 percent of symptomatic adults and 13 percent of symptomatic children.
Techniques To Help Control Your Breathing
- Using a breathing technique called Breathing control. This helps you to breathe gently with the least amount of effort and can help control your breathing whilst moving around and help recovery after activity.
- Practice whilst you are sitting down to master the technique
- Put one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy.
- Slowly breathe in and out through your nose, with your mouth closed. If this is too hard, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. If youre relaxed, the air will reach low in your lungs. Your tummy will move out against your hand. If your breathing is controlled, the hand on your chest will hardly move.
- When you breathe out, your tummy will fall gently. Imagine all the tension in your body leaving as you let the air out.
- With every breath out, try to feel more relaxed and calm. Gradually try to breathe more slowly.
When you are able to do this easily whilst sitting down, try and then use this technique when you are active.
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What Are Cytokine Storms And What Do They Have To Do With Covid
A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the body’s immune system. In some people with COVID-19, the immune system releases immune messengers, called cytokines, into the bloodstream out of proportion to the threat or long after the virus is no longer a threat.
When this happens, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, potentially causing significant harm. A cytokine storm triggers an exaggerated inflammatory response that may damage the liver, blood vessels, kidneys, and lungs, and increase formation of blood clots throughout the body. Ultimately, the cytokine storm may cause more harm than the coronavirus itself.
A simple blood test can help determine whether someone with COVID-19 may be experiencing a cytokine storm. Many doctors, including those in the United States, have been treating very ill COVID-19 patients with dexamethasone and other corticosteroids . Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory drugs and thus make biologic sense for those patients who have developed an exaggerated inflammatory response to the viral infection.
Covid Pneumonia: How Long Does Recovery Take
You’re likely familiar with the common, mild symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, dry cough and fatigue.
But, in more severe cases, COVID-19 can also cause serious complications, including pneumonia.
“We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19, particularly about the havoc it can wreak on the lungs and the pneumonia it causes, which is often now called COVID pneumonia,” says Dr. Rayman Lee, pulmonologist at Houston Methodist.
That being said, there’s still plenty that experts like Dr. Lee do know about COVID pneumonia, including about how long it can take to fully recover from it.
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What Cdc Is Doing
CDC continues to work to identify how common post-COVID conditions are, who is most likely to get them, and why some symptoms eventually improve for some people and may last longer for other people. Rapid and multi-year studies are underway to further investigate post-COVID conditions in more detail. These studies will help us better understand post-COVID conditions and how to treat patients with these longer-term effects.
Who Gets Long Covid
Numerous studies show that about 10-30% of people who get COVID-19 have long-term effects from the coronavirus.
Many people assume that COVID-19 long-haulers have underlying medical conditions or had a serious case of COVID-19. And, it certainly appears that older people and those with serious medical conditions are more likely to experience long COVID.
But if youre younger or had a mild case of COVID-19, its still possible to have symptoms of long COVID. Even people who had few or minor symptoms in the beginning might find themselves suddenly experiencing post-COVID symptoms that are more noticeable and wont go away.
While we dont yet know exactly why long COVID happens, the scientific community thinks it may have to do with damage to blood vessels, autoimmune effects or underlying infection. Research is underway to learn if certain people are more likely to continue to feel the effects of COVID over the long-term and how best to treat these effects.
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How Long Can Long
When it comes to COVID-19, how long is long-term? The answer is unknown. Though it seems like a very long time since the pandemic began, COVID-19 only began spreading widely in early 2020, and the vast majority of people who have had the disease are only a year or less into their recovery.
It will take longer to understand what is next for patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and who still have resulting health problems.
What Are The Most Common Long Term Lung Problems After Covid
Some of the most common pulmonary symptoms post COVID-19 infection are dyspnea, decrease in exercise capacity and long-term oxygen requirements, said Dr. Sanghavi, adding that a lot of patients are discharged from the hospital on oxygen and continue getting that oxygen at home.
The way we diagnosis this is through pulmonary function tests like measuring the lung capacity or the diffusion capacity of gas to see how effective the gas exchange is in the lungs, he added. You might also need high resolution CT scans to see changes post COVID in the lungs to further classify and define the problems.
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Is It Safe To Use Steroids To Control Allergy And Asthma Symptoms During The Covid
Yes, it is safe to use corticosteroid nasal sprays to control nasal allergies or inhaled corticosteroids to control asthma symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology issued a statement emphasizing the importance of controlling allergy and asthma symptoms during the pandemic. They said there is no evidence that intranasal or inhaled corticosteroids increase the risk of getting the COVID-19 infection or lead to a worse outcome if you do get infected.
The ACAAI statement was a response to concerns over reports warning against the use of systemic steroids to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients with specific respiratory complications. However, those reports did not refer to healthy individuals using corticosteroid nasal sprays or inhalers to manage allergies or asthma.
Taste And Smell Changes
While recovering from coronavirus, you might find that food tastes and smells different to usual. Your food may taste bland, metallic, salty or sweet. This usually only lasts for a while, but it can affect your appetite.
Read more about taste and smell changes, including what you can do to improve the taste of your food, on the NHS Your Covid Recovery website.
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At About A Week In Patients Tend To Get Better Or End Up Hospitalized With Worsening Symptoms Experts Say
Emerging 2019 Novel Coronavirus PneumoniaEmerging 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia
Its take about a week to know whether the body will kick COVID-19.
Patients tend to have symptoms for about a week before either getting better, or getting really sick, Dr. Joshua Denson, who works at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, told NBC. Sometimes, the network reported, coronavirus patients think theyre getting better until they take a sharp turn for the worse. Of course, most people do recover.
Diarrhea and other digestive issues like vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite have all been documented as symptoms seen in coronavirus patients. Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain may be early symptoms of coronavirus in some cases.
Coronavirus disease 2019 most commonly presents with respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat. However, digestive symptoms also occur in patients with COVID-19 and are often described in outpatients with less severe disease,researchers in a study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found.
That study found that the early symptoms of coronavirus can be gastrointestinal, with respiratory symptoms coming later: In some cases, the digestive symptoms, particularly diarrhea, can be the initial presentation of COVID-19, and may only later or never present with respiratory symptoms or fever.
However, the three most prevalent symptoms are a fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.
New Or Ongoing Symptoms
Some people experience a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Unlike some of the other types of post-COVID conditions that tend only to occur in people who have had severe illness, these symptoms can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the illness was mild, or if they had no initial symptoms. People commonly report experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Change in smell or taste
- Changes in menstrual period cycles
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How Is Covid Diagnosed
COVID is diagnosed with a physical examination and a patient history which will include asking if the patient had any known recent exposure to the virus.
If COVID is suspected, tests used to diagnose the virus include:
- PCR tests
- Results can take hours to up to one week
- More accurate than an antigen test
An antibody test may be used to determine if a person had a past COVID-19 infection, but it is not used to diagnose current infections because it takes up to 3 weeks following infection for the body to produce antibodies to the virus.
What Are Some Possible Lingering Mental Health Effects Of Covid
One of the most common mental health effects and challenges has been depression and anxiety, said Dr. Sanghavi. The pandemic itself has brought about a lot of challenges to the patients life, be it financial or personal, and add to it the recuperation from an illness like COVID.
The other symptoms you would notice is brain fog, which is akin to cognitive impairment that you see in patients who have post intensive care unit syndrome, he added, noting that other mental health effects might be insomnia and PTSD.
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What Are The Signs That I May Have Developed A Heart Problem After Covid
There are many symptoms reported in the post-COVID period, and there are multiple potential causes for these symptoms, says Post.
Severe fatigue is common after infection with the coronavirus, just as it is after any serious illness. Many people experience shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations. Any of these problems could be related to the heart, but they could also be due to other factors, including the aftermath of being very ill, prolonged inactivity and spending weeks convalescing in bed, she says.
POTS after COVID-19. People recovering from the coronavirus sometimes show symptoms of a condition known as POTS . Researchers are exploring whether or not there is a link.
POTS isnt directly a cardiac problem, but a neurologic one that affects the part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood flow. The syndrome can cause rapid heartbeats when you stand up, which can lead to brain fog, fatigue, palpitations, lightheadedness and other symptoms.