Unlock the Secrets to Preventing Long COVID: Insights from a Board Certified PA

Long COVID-19, a condition characterized by persistent symptoms that occur for at least 3 months following a COVID-19 infection, continues to puzzle medical professionals and researchers alike. These symptoms can last weeks or even years after the initial illness subsides.  

Symptoms of Long COVID range from mild to severe and include fatigue, brain fog, respiratory problems, fast beating or pounding heart and more. Patients sometimes require ongoing care for their symptoms. Millions of adults and children have been impacted by Long COVID, according to the CDC. 

I have seen and treated a number of patients for long COVID. While it can be a lengthy road to recovery, there are some things you can do to decrease the risk of developing long COVID, or at least cut down on the risk and severity of the symptoms. From respecting the recovery period to activating the vagus nerve, I want to delve into practical strategies that can assist you or someone you’re caring for: 

1. Respect the recovery period:

It’s paramount to refrain from strenuous activity during the acute phase of COVID-19 infection and for at least four weeks thereafter, even as symptoms get better. 

2. Embrace antioxidants:

Bolster your body’s defenses by ensuring an ample supply of essential antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin D, crucial for combatting infections effectively. 

3. Guard against reinfection:

Vigilance is key. Employ protective measures such as wearing high quality masks in crowded spaces, steering clear of sick individuals, and adhering to COVID-19 vaccination protocols to minimize the risk of recurrent infections. 

4. Alleviate physiological stress:

Engage in mindfulness exercises, prioritize restorative sleep, and incorporate regular movement into your routine to promote overall well-being. 

5. Activate the vagus nerve:

Harness the power of the vagus nerve to support resilience and recovery. The vagus nerve connects your brain to different organs, including your heart, stomach and lungs. Simple techniques such as breath work, meditation, cold exposure, or even humming can stimulate this vital pathway and promote healing. 

By combining early recognition, preventive measures and ongoing research, we move closer to unlocking the secrets of Long COVID and improving outcomes for those affected by this persistent and often debilitating condition. As our understanding of this complex condition evolves, patients need to stay informed, work closely with their health care provider and continue to protect their health. 

Picture of Ashley Drapeau, PA-C, L.Ac., MPAS, MAC

Ashley Drapeau, PA-C, L.Ac., MPAS, MAC

Ashley Drapeau, PA-C, L.Ac., MPAS, MAC, is a Board Certified PA who specializes in Long COVID at the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and GW University Resiliency and Well-Being Program.