It is now well known that COVID-19 virus risks not only becoming severely ill with pneumonia, but COVID-19 also may lead to chronic long term illness. This phenomenon has come to be known as COVID Long Haulers.
Can Acupuncture help COVID Long Haulers?
Yes, I have had positive experiences helping patients with COVID long haul symptoms with acupuncture and herbs. The most common symptoms patients have come to me with are body pain, shortness of breath, inability to exercise, body aches, fatigue, and brain fog.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine doctors have described symptoms after one gets encounters and infection disease there can be residual heat and toxins left in the body. So that although there is no pathogen left over, the body still believes it is fighting. This makes sense in many cases as there may be long term inflammation found in the body from overactive immune system. Acupuncture is a very powerful tool to reduce inflammation.
Another imbalance that may occur can be described as damage to the body’s energy, or Qi. This is when the pathogen has damaged the body’s energy. The goal of the treatment is to bring the body back to balance by removing the toxins and boosting the qi.
Acupuncture has long shown it is effective for reducing inflammation and healing chronic illness. I describe this as hitting the reset switch on the body. I believe this is one of the many ways acupuncture can help those with long haul symptoms. In many patients I will also use herbal medicine to help the immune system function and stimulate energy.
What is a COVID long hauler?
While some patients with COVID-19 are stricken with severe life threatening pneumonia in the beginning, others have minor or no symptoms at all. But long haul symptoms may manifest no matter how severely one had COVID-19.
Some studies suggest as many as 50-80% of COVID-19 patients experience long term symptoms despite no longer having the virus. COVID Long-haulers are people who have long term symptoms from having COVID-19. Some COVID long haulers have known damage to their lungs, heart, kidneys, or brain. But others may have debilitating symptoms without any detectable damage.
One theory of why COVID-19 has longer term effects is that it may effect the immune system leading to the long haul symptoms. It has been known that other viruses have caused long term chronic illnesses.
What are the symptoms of COVID Long Haulers?
The most common symptoms of COVID Long Haulers are fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and difficulty sleeping. COVID-19 is such as new disease to humans, we really don’t know all of the long term symptoms yet.
Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has stated, “Anecdotally, there’s no question that there are a considerable number of individuals who have a postviral syndrome that really, in many respects, can incapacitate them for weeks and weeks following so-called recovery and clearing of the virus.” Fauci has suggested these symptoms are reminiscent of Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).