Mayo Clinic’s 5 early care tips for people with long Covid

April 8, 2022 0 By CH Unnikrishnan

Long Covid or post-Covid syndrome is the worst health outcome of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic that millions of people, who were infected with the virus, have been still suffering ever since they recovered from the acute stage. Dr Greg Vanichkachorn, director of Mayo Clinic’s Covid Activity Rehabilitation Program and a physician at Mayo’s Division of Public Health, Infectious Diseases, and Occupational Medicine, and his colleagues at Mayo, have some important early post-Covid tips for these patients. Here are five tips from the Mayo Clinic team on how to start defeating post-COVID syndrome. These include certain important steps that the patients can take on their own or the healthcare provider can advise their patients.  

1. Allow yourself time to recover

Patients who try to return to their normal lifestyle too quickly experience a flare of fatigue, shortness of breath and muscle aches that can last for hours or days. That forces them to rest and can start a cycle of trying to resume normal life and experiencing setbacks that can leave them demoralised and deconditioned. So, give yourself time to recover. The fastest way to recover is to take things slow and easy at first, then try to gradually increase your activities.

2. Hydrate and eat healthy foods

During the acute infection, many patients aren’t very hungry. This can be made worse if there are problems with taste and smell. Some patients get used to this and forget the importance of good nutrition. However, it is important to take in a good amount of hydration: 2.7 to 3.7 litres per day. With long Covid, physicians and researchers haven’t found that any one diet is best, but it appears that extreme diets make things worse. Therefore, the team recommends a balanced, Mediterranean diet and avoiding processed and high-fat foods.

3. Focus on resistance activity

When patients exercise after Covid-19, they often try activities that elevate the heart rate, such as walking and cycling. However, it is found that cardiovascular exercise is the most difficult type of activity for patients with post-Covid syndrome. Instead, start with resistance activities, such as working with a resistance band, light free weights, yoga, or Pilates, and once this goes well, you can throw in some light cardio.

4. Optimise sleep

Many patients with long Covid take naps, disrupting sleep schedules. It is important to get the best sleep possible, and that starts with making sure your sleep area is ideal. Tips for better sleep include making sure the room has good air circulation and is slightly cooler than it is during the day; minimising electronic distractions such using your phone in bed, which can keep your brain stimulated just enough to keep you awake; skipping caffeine after lunch; and avoiding exercise within two hours of sleep. It also helps to work toward a normal daytime schedule by waking up at a certain time, eating regular meals and having a routine bedtime.

5. Olfactory retraining

About a third of patients have prolonged troubles with taste and smell after acute COVID infection. Fortunately, most patients will get better within 6 months, and even more within 12 months. Hence the Mayo team recommends olfactory retraining if you want to speed things up.