Post-COVID Recovery

Jul 16, 2021 | Ravindra Ganesh | @rganesh2603 | Comments (2)

It can take up to three weeks to recover from a COVID-19 infection. Mayo Clinic defines post COVID-19 syndrome as symptoms that continue four or more weeks after the start of a COVID-19 infection, identified by either symptom onset or a positive COVD-19 test. Some people with post COVID-19 syndrome may recover in a few weeks. For others it may take several months. Unfortunately, some people may have chronic symptoms that never go away. Learn more about the basics of post-COVID syndrome and self-care for symptoms.

Video Script

Post-Covid Syndrome is new to everyone around the world.  It can be overwhelming and frustrating.  Research continues and hopefully, new treatments will be developed. 

Currently, many experts think symptoms of post-COVID syndrome could be due to how the COVID infection affected the central nervous system, which includes the brain and nervous systemChanges to how the central nervous system processes pain, fatigue or other signals can lead to a variety of symptoms. The initial infection has heightened how the brain and nerves are responding to signals, increasing the fight or flight response. In other words, the body has “turned up the volume” on signals, making them stronger, and sometime distorting them.  This can cause a wide range of symptoms including physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral.   

One of the main things that can help is to calm down the central nervous system and how it interprets signals, sometimes called “retraining the brain.” There are many strategies for retraining the brain.  Most help the brain move from the flight-or-fight response to the rest- and- relaxed response. This helps rewire how the brain receives signals.  Strategies that can help include biofeedback, mindfulness, Tai Chi, and yoga. These strategies, combined with physical activity or exercise and diet, can be very helpful. 

Biofeedback can help you become aware of your body’s automatic responses. Learning to control those responses may lessen your symptoms. Armed with information from biofeedback, you can better understand how your body reacts in certain situations and what you can do about it. 

Mindfulness is about paying attention — with intention and purpose, and without judgment — to what is happening around you in that moment. It’s about being present and accepting the moment as it is. Mindfulness can help you relax and react less to stressors or signals. 

Mind and body practices, such as Yoga and Tai Chi, can also help relax your body and your mind. Gentle, intentional movements connect the mind and body, and can help make moving easier and more comfortable, reducing chronic symptoms and increase energy. 

Being physically active or having a structured exercise program can help as well. When your brain relearns that movement is safe, you will feel less fatigue, pain or other symptoms. 

Eating healthy can support your recovery. Having the needed nutrients to help fight off other infections, increase muscle mass and decrease risks of other conditions can help you feel better and manage symptoms. 

There is no quick fix, but the strategies I’ve explained here can help you work toward feeling better. 

End Script

Learn more about self-care and the basics of post-COVID syndrome. Explore Mayo Clinic programs and discuss post-COVID syndrome in the discussion group.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Post-COVID Recovery blog.

I understand the considerations, being physically active usually can help. But sadly, I sincerely think that it must be clear to everyone that this is not possible for some longhaulers. Biofeedback is not helpful, I would only relearn that moving is safe, if it didn't make me feel an excruciating pain that paralyzes me, sometimes causing vomiting due to its intensity.
I often hear suggestions from almost everyone: You should exercise, do yoga, or try pilates.
Therefore, I want to - respectfully - express myself here: I am not capable of moving. Simple as that.
The pain reaches an intensity that I had never known throughout my life.
So, not everyone can relearn new lessons because the organic responses reaching the brain have not changed.
I fully respect that this post may be useful to some, but I want to clarify that it doesn't apply to everyone. Beyond the pain, the post-exertional malaise (PEM) that follows even minimal activity is also frightening.
I genuinely hope that these orientations can be relevant to almost everyone, but I am an exception and I think it is impoetant to acknowledge the limits of each patient. Thank you for the post, I appreciate the initiative.


Amen! I can empathize. I expected someone to dig in to my symptoms and find out “why” what I’m experiencing is happening, and then provide a care plan tailored to my needs. Instead, I got bracketed in to a check the box exercise of “fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue” and prescribed cookie cutter treatments that don’t align with how Long COVID has worked for me (and many others). For example. I was advised by a doctor there stop working and forego income with the expectation that following their recommendations will lead to healing and that they would be available to consult, which implies that a doctor would be willing to oversee the care so that I would know how and when I could return to work. Instead, when I checked in to follow up, that doctor refused to provide continuing care because “we are only consultative.” So it seems that the message is that I’m on my own to figure out how to follow and implement a doctor’s advice and then determine if I can return to making a living like a functioning adult….

In addition, this same clinic is refusing to refill my low dose Naltrexone prescription because “we are consultative” and is now asking me to find a doctor with no knowledge of Long COVID to refill the prescription, which, when I have gone to other doctors, they have said “well, ask that doctor (i.e., the Mayo doctor)”. So, now I’m going in circles.

Essentially, I’d encourage anyone who goes to Mayo for Long COVID help to be clear that they won’t be receiving ongoing individualized care and, instead, will be put in a category of diagnosis, with many recommendations that may or may not help, and then left to fend for themselves as their own advocate and care coordinator. I mean, we have a disease that biologically wears us out and gets worse with stress, that we then have to manage on our own….

Sigh, I hope that one day I can live a normal, fulfilling and rewarding life, but I’d at least like to feel like I’m cared about!

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