​Overcoming post-viral fatigue

May 04, 2022

Fatigue is a common symptom of many different illnesses. It is a normal part of the body’s response to fighting an infection. Usually fatigue goes away quickly once the body has dealt with the infection. But sometimes fatigue can linger for weeks or months after you’ve been sick with a viral infection, such as COVID-19.

What is post-viral fatigue?

Post-viral fatigue is when the fatigue that started with a viral infection continues for a longer period of time after the infection has gone. In the context of COVID-19, post-viral fatigue is also commonly referred to as long COVID. While most people recover quickly from coronavirus, some people have ongoing symptoms that can last for a few weeks or longer.

Around 1.5 million people in the UK are now estimated to have had symptoms for more than three months, according to the latest figures from the ZOE Covid study app[1].

What are the symptoms of long COVID?

Extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, ‘brain fog’ and chest pains are among the dozens of long COVID symptoms reported by long COVID patients, many of whom have been off work for months.

And these symptoms are not limited to people who were seriously unwell or hospitalised with coronavirus. Post-viral fatigue affects people of all ages, including children, young people, and adults of all ages. The severity and length of time that someone experiences fatigue doesn’t always reflect the severity of the initial infection or their previous fitness levels. Some people can be very unwell at the start of the illness but recover relatively quickly, whilst other people may only have a mild viral illness but go on to have debilitating fatigue for a long time afterwards.

Treating long COVID

Scientists and doctors are still trying to understand the cause of long COVID. Whilst there are still many unanswered questions, there’s a lot you can do right now to feel better, starting with your immune system.

Support your immune system

You want your immune function to have everything it needs to mount a healthy response to a virus, but it also needs to recover from its efforts getting you through the virus. If you’ve been battling the effects of COVID-19, your immune system may be in a state of imbalance. A good first step is to nourish and help replenish your immune system. New research published in the past year shows that getting enough vitamin D helps immune system function, with studies showing it prevents severe COVID symptoms [2] and also helps immune function ‘bounce back’ post-virus[3]. If vitamin D levels are low, try BetterYou DLux 3000 . A high strength vitamin D supplement, it provides a whopping 3000IU or 75ug vitamin D per spray.

Vitamin C is also important for immune health. It is well documented for aiding in the prevention of colds and other infections and one way it does this is by encouraging the production of white blood cells that help protect the body against infection [4].

If looking to supplement with vitamin C, try Jan de Vries Vitamin C 1000mg Timed Release , a timed release vitamin C tablet that allows the body to use what it needs throughout the day for better absorption and longer-lasting action.

Echinacea is also beneficial for the immune system. It works by improving the way the immune system responds to bugs, especially the common cold, it reduces the severity of cold symptoms and the duration of colds and flu, [5] and it can reduce the likelihood of repeated cold or flu infections[6]. It can even kick COVID’s butt. Research carried out during the pandemic shows that Echinacea can reduce your chances of catching enveloped respiratory tract viruses by 51% (of which COVID) [7], reduce your chances of catching SARS-CoV-2 by 63% [8] and reduce viral load in cases of infection by 99%8.

There are several varieties of Echinacea plant, but Echinacea purpurea has a greater amount of scientific evidence behind it than any other herbal remedy. It also shows antiviral action against all coronavirus variants known so far, including the Omicron variant, and no resistance has ever been developed against it by respiratory tract viruses.

There are several A.Vogel Echinaforce products to choose from, all made with fresh extracts of Echinacea purpurea .

Balance your microbiome

Since almost 80% of your immune cells reside in the gut, good gut flora is essential for balanced immune function.

What’s more, researchers now point to a specific link between long COVID symptoms and the human gut microbiome. One study, published in the journal Gut, found that people with long COVID had ‘distinct’ differences in their gut microbiome compared to individuals who hadn’t had a coronavirus infection. A less diverse gut microbiome has been linked to long COVID patients and at six months post virus, fewer ‘friendly’ bacteria and a greater abundance of ‘unfriendly’ bacteria, when compared with people who hadn’t had COVID-19.

Those people who didn’t develop long COVID had fewer changes in their gut microbiome, with complete recovery at the end of the six months. In fact, the gut microbiome of people who didn’t develop long COVID was so similar to non-COVID patients, that it lead researchers to conclude that ‘…if you have a more balanced microbiome at the beginning, you will be able to fight [COVID] symptoms… or you will at least recover much faster.’ [9]

Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut flora by introducing healthy bacteria to the gut, which in turn helps control levels of unfriendly bacteria and yeast. There’s only so much space in the gut, so the more friendly bacteria you add, the less room there is for unfriendly bacteria. Probiotic supplements are a great way to increase good gut bacteria quickly and directly, and certain probiotic strains have been studied specifically for their beneficial immunomodulatory action. Try OptiBac Probiotics Immune Support , which has been formulated especially to help support the immune system.

Fight fatigue with vitamin B

The main symptom of post-viral fatigue and long COVID is a significant lack of energy, which can impact on every part of life including school or work, home life, social activities, sport and relationships.

Foods rich in B vitamins, such bananas, oats and beans, or a vitamin B Complex is usually recommended if energy levels are low, because B vitamins help to convert food into energy. Hadley Wood’s Energy-B supplement provides a full spectrum B vitamin complex in safe, potent quantities, each in perfect balance, to help fight fatigue.

Vitamin B12 is especially important for red blood cell formation and energy release. We only need a small amount, circa 1.5 mcg per day, but because it is mainly found in animal products, vitamin B12 deficiency can be an issue for vegans and vegetarians. Try BetterYou’s Vitamin B12 Oral Spray . It absorbs directly through the cheek tissue for quicker, more efficient absorption; it also contains chromium, which helps control blood sugar to prevent spikes and dips in energy.

[1] How many people have long Covid in the UK? ZOE app professor warns problem isn't going away with 1.5m affected (inews.co.uk)

[2] What is the link between vitamin D levels and COVID-19? (ucdavis.edu)

[3] Vitamin D and COVID-19: An Overview of Recent Evidence - PMC (nih.gov)

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25157026/

[5] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/841315/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25784510

[7] Jawad M, Schoop R, Suter A, Klein P, Eccles R. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine . 2012:841315. doi: 10.1155/2012/841315.

[8]Kolev E, Mircheva L, Edwards MR, et al. Echinacea purpurea for the Long-term Prevention of Viral Respiratory Tract Infections during COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized, Open, Controlled, Exploratory Clinical Study. medRxiv 2021.12.10.21267582; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.10.21267582.

[9] Gut microbiota dynamics in a prospective cohort of patients with post-acute COVID-19 syndrome | Gut (bmj.com)