Understanding Post-COVID Fatigue
Post-COVID fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of the condition and often lasts for weeks and even months after the initial infection. The condition goes well beyond simply “being tired” and can drastically impact sufferers’ quality of life. Data suggests that more than half of all patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 continue to have persistent fatigue ten weeks after their initial illness. This fatigue is often tied to other symptoms, like muscle and joint and pain, and significantly decrease mobility.
For milder cases, however, post-COVID fatigue often subsides within two to three weeks following initial infection and diagnosis. No matter how long you struggle with post-COVID fatigue, you can empower yourself to mitigate symptoms and maximize your energy.
What Are the Symptoms of Post-COVID Fatigue?
Managing post-COVID fatigue.
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Symptoms of Post-COVID fatigue generally mirror those of chronic fatigue syndrome. They can include physical, psychological, and behavioral complications, including:
- Persistent Tired and Sleepy Feeling
- Mild to Severe Headaches
- Dizziness and Nausea
- Muscle and Joint Aches and Weakness
- Delayed Reflexes
- Impaired Motor Skills
- Poor Decision-Making Skills
- Moodiness and Irritability
- Impaired Hand-Eye coordination
- Loss of Appetite
More serious symptoms can include reduced immune system function, blurred vision, recall and memory problems, poor concentration, inability to pay attention to surroundings, poor motivation, delusions, and hallucinations. If you or your loved one are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor about a personalized care plan to manage them.
What Causes Post-COVID Fatigue?
While there is limited research on what specifically causes post-COVID fatigue, some experts say that the body’s natural immune responses may experience imbalance when it tries to combat certain types of infections. Fatigue related to COVID is similar to encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a complex illness that affects around 800,000-2.5 million people every year. ME/CFS often renders sufferers unable to live life the way they had before contracting the diseases that led to their fatigue. This includes quality-of-life issues, such as:
- Fitness and Exercise
- Household Chores
- Functioning at Work or School
- Sex and Intimacy
- Recreation and Travel
Many who experienced ME/CFS are not diagnosed; however, post-COVID fatigue is generally earlier, as it is tied to the diagnosis of the virus.
Managing Your Post-COVID Fatigue
Although it can be challenging to live with post-COVID fatigue, you don’t have to let it derail your routine or quality of life. The first thing you should do is admit that your fatigue is legitimate and that you need to give yourself room to heal. You don’t have to “power through it” or ignore it. Here are some things you can do to preserve your energy and health to the best of your ability until your symptoms subside for good:
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
- Try relaxation exercises, such as meditation, tai chi, yoga, or breathing techniques.
- Prioritize the bulk of your activity for earlier in the day when you have more energy.
- Ask for help with everyday chores, like cooking or cleaning if they’re too difficult.
- Keep moving and be as active as possible to increase your mobility and energy.
- Document the activities and behaviors that can trigger fatigue so you can identify and avoid them if necessary.
- Eat healthy foods that increase your energy and stay hydrated. Avoid trans fats, bad carbs, and excessive sugar.
Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen to the point of complete immobilization, if your symptoms worsen rather than improve, or if a month goes by without any change in your condition. Even if you’ve already had COVID, the CDC recommends that all Americans 12 years of age or older get vaccinated as soon as possible after the infection has cleared.
Are you experiencing post-COVID fatigue? Stay up-to-date on the latest news about long COVID on Responsum for Long COVID.