Long-haulers Syndrome - Important Facts
Updated: Apr 18, 2021
The term “Long-haulers Syndrome” broadly relates to people of all ages who have had a
recent Covid-19 infection, subsequently tested negative at least once, yet still have
persistent symptoms that may include fatigue, brain fog, gastrointestinal symptoms,
headaches, shortness of breath, muscle aches, anxiety, reduced exercise tolerance and
heart palpitations. These symptoms often evolve after the initial infection and may persist for months.
Long-haulers syndrome does not overtly appear to be dependent on the presence of other conditions (such as asthma or diabetes) or the severity of the initial Covid-19 infection. In fact, some patients report an asymptomatic initial infection, followed by the onset of symptoms. This condition has recently been termed “post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV2 infection (PASC)” by Dr. Anthony Fauci. It is believed to occur in 15-30% of people who get Covid-19 infection.
As a functional/integrative medicine doctor who has treated patients with viral conditions for the past three decades, including hundreds of patients suffering from brain fog and chronic fatigue, I’d like to offer my perspective on the Covid-19 version of post-viral syndrome.
When I see a patient with long standing symptoms of fatigue and brain fog for the first
time, the most common observation I hear is, “I was perfectly fine, exercising regularly,
working hard, raising my kids and living a full life, until I came down with a bad flu.
Since that infection, I’ve never been able to recover my health nor regain my previous
level of activity.”
The occurrence of “Post-viral Syndrome” is not new. A CDC-funded study performed in
Australia followed 253 individuals for 12 months after developing an infection with
either Epstein-Barr virus (a DNA virus) or Ross River virus (an RNA virus). The
researchers found that 11% of the participants developed symptoms consistent with
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) during the 12-month post-infectious period. These
symptoms included fatigue, brain fog and muscle pain.
The House of Cards Scenario
When I dig deeply into the history of a person with post-viral syndrome, there is often
evidence that the individual was not eating properly, not sleeping well, had been over-
extending themselves and/or was possibly suffering from anxiety or depression that had not been properly addressed. They usually had no idea that their health was becoming progressively out of balance. I call this the “house of cards” scenario.
In this scenario, a depleted state has gradually been evolving over several years. This
might have been caused by age-related mitochondrial dysfunction, a gradual imbalance of brain neurotransmitters, a progressively unhealthy gut microbiome and/or an immune system that has been subject to multiple previous infections and/or antibiotic use.
Recovery from post-viral syndrome is definitely possible. The recovery program I
recommend includes the following interventions:
1. Mitochondrial support with key micronutrients
2. Microbiome support guided by stool testing
3. Adrenal support with nutrients and botanicals
4. Deep, restorative sleep is absolutely necessary.
5. Avoiding excessive stress is critically important.
6. Medications can be helpful to relieve symptoms while giving natural therapies the time they need to work.
7. Conserving energy using a technique known as “strategic pacing” can be very beneficial until adequate energy reserves have been restored.
8. Rule out exposure to mold or chemical toxins that might contribute to their lack of immune resilience.
(In subsequent blog posts, I will cover the above interventions in more detail.)
Long-haulers Syndrome is the Covid-19 variant of post-viral syndrome. Despite the understandable fear that you may never recover your previous level of health, it has been my experience that you can fully recover and use this event as an opportunity to learn how to best take care of your health.
Keep Hope Alive!
Jon D. Kaiser, M.D.