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Long COVID – what is it and what can be done to regain health?
Most people who get infected with COVID will completely recover within a few weeks, but some people can experience symptoms for weeks or months after the initial infection. When symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks, this is called Long COVID and often affects young, fit and healthy people even if their original COVID infection was mild. It is thought that as many as 1 in 3 people may develop the condition. Symptoms are varied and unpredictable but include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Hoarse voice
- Brain fog and problems with memory or concentration
- Joint and muscle pain
- Changes to taste and smell
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Sleep problems
- Numbness or pins and needles
- Anxiety or depression
- Skin rashes
- Low grade fever
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
While we are not entirely sure why Long COVID occurs, it is thought to be due to:
- Viral persistence in the nasal epithelium and GI tract where the virus hides and with the vascular nature of the disease, it could be anywhere!
- The continued presence of an inactive virus continually activates the immune system causing collateral damage due to inflammation.
- A hyperactive immune system that gets stuck in a high gear.
- Viral damage to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that manages many regulatory functions of the body.
It is difficult to predict who will develop Long COVID but those with certain immune disorders such as hay fever, asthma, eczema and autoimmune conditions appear to be at a greater risk due to an already ‘trigger happy’ immune system. There may also be a flare up of past infections such as EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus).
The wide variety of symptoms is being explained by several mechanisms, some of which or all may be present in an individual:
- It is possible that the virus is hijacking the microbiota (normal gut flora) to replicate spike proteins. Approximately 75% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut and disturbances in the gut bacteria can lead to increased intestinal permeability and systemic inflammation, which can also affect the brain (brain fog).
- The mitochondria are not using oxygen properly and there is widespread endothelial dysfunction – vascular biology all gone wrong! Mitochondria are affected by viruses as they are crucial to the inflammatory response and the immune systems’ role is getting rid of the virus. The virus can damage the mitochondria and damage the energy producing furnaces in the cells. This leads to fatigue.
- COVID attacks the enzymes coupled to our energy system which depletes a molecule in our body called NAD+. Through a series of compensatory measures to replenish NAD+, levels of another molecule called serotonin are also depleted. The result of this is activation of a type of immune cell called a mast cell which releases many chemicals including histamine and can explain many of the symptoms.
So, what can we do?
At Cellf Solutions we offer testing that can investigate disturbances in mitochondrial energy pathways, nutrient depletions, neurotransmitter imbalances, toxicity and the gut microbiome and function. We can then use targeted therapies including infusions of NAD+ and other mitochondrial support nutrients, hyperbaric oxygen to improve oxygenation of tissues and infrared saunas for detoxification. We also use targeted diet, lifestyle and supplementation interventions to address specific symptoms of Long COVID and help you regain health.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT means breathing 100% pure oxygen at increased pressure, which helps the body collect more oxygen and use it to heal damaged tissue or fight infection.
What is NAD+?
Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) has a critical role in energy production and is a signalling molecule for proper functioning of the immune system and cell survival. As we age, DNA damage from toxin accumulation, UV light, chronic disease and other stressors cause levels of NAD+ in the body to decline.
Under normal conditions highly damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced by many cellular processes such as energy generation and antimicrobial pathways in immune cells. The ROS are normally neutralised by enzymes and if these mechanisms are impaired, NAD+ levels are reduced, and this contributes to altered metabolism and increased disease susceptibility. The reduced NAD+ may also contribute to the wide range of abnormalities seen with COVID and repletion may help to reduce the symptoms of Long COVID.
NAD+ is a cofactor for many enzymes and proteins including the antiviral activity of the interferon system and studies have shown that when cells are infected with COVID, the virus infected cells increase their use of NAD+ causing depletion. IV infusion of NAD+ can replete the stores and provide relief for many Long COVID symptoms.
Cellf Wellness and GP Clinic Provides Relief For Long COVID Symptoms
Book your appointment today to see how we can help you.