Although we are still dealing with new cases and potentially new strains of COVID-19, thankfully the advent of vaccines, boosters and new therapeutics have resulted in significantly reduced symptoms and death rates. However, Long COVID is continuing to present challenges for not only the people who are continuing to suffer from symptoms, but for the medical community at large.
What is Long COVID?
Although the medical community is still working to fully understand the underlying mechanisms of Long COVID and who is more likely to be at risk, people who suffer from Long COVID seem to continue to deal with lingering and persistent symptoms for months and even years after their initial infection. Diagnosis of Long COVID is also challenging as many of its symptoms are similar to those of other diseases and conditions.
Estimates vary; however, it is widely accepted that about 10-25% of COVID patients will experience LongCOVID symptoms.
According to a GAO report, approximately 23 million Americans suffer from Long COVID, with more than 1 million unable to work due to their condition, which is likely a conservative estimate.
Several factors increase your risk of suffering from Long COVID, namely severity of symptoms, hospitalization, multiple infections, as well as certain underlying conditions.
According to the CDC, 80% of the people who experience Long COVID symptoms were hospitalized for their initial infection.
Who is most at risk for Long COVID?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as additional research, the people who are most at risk for Long COVID are:
People over the age of 40
People with certain comorbidities, such as diabetes or autoimmune conditions
The severity of initial infection and/or hospitalization
What are the symptoms of Long COVID?
One reason Long COVID is so difficult to diagnose is there is no specific pattern of symptoms, nor any specific testing to clearly determine if you have Long COVID. Over 200 different symptoms have been attributed to Long COVID. Symptoms can vary from inconvenient to debilitating.
The most common symptoms include:
Shortness of breath or other lingering respiratory issues
Mild cognitive decline
Memory issues or confusion
Persistent loss of taste or smell
Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
Gastrointestinal symptoms; constipation, diarrhea, gas, acid reflux, cramping
Why do some people seem to recover post-COVID infection, while others continue to suffer from persistent symptoms?
Although COVID was initially believed to be a respiratory illness, more and more research has shown that it is primarily an inflammatory condition. Therefore, it can affect each person very differently and symptoms can vary person to person. While there is no definitive answer as to what causes Long COVID, recent research suggests a few possible reasons including:
Residual Viral Load: for some people, the virus takes longer to clear and therefore symptoms persist.
Reactivation of latent viruses, such as Epstein Barr
Triggers the onset of an autoimmune condition
Gut dysbiosis: there is a correlation between an altered gut microbiome and persistent COVID symptoms.
What treatments are available for Long COVID?
There are limited conventional therapeutics available for people suffering from Long COVID. Treatments are primarily focused on addressing symptoms, therefore treatments include things like breathing exercises, cognitive therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, as well as medicines to aid with symptoms and also the use of some antiviral medications. None of this helps to address the root cause of the symptoms!
How is the Kellman Wellness Center’s approach different?
Dr. Kellman takes an alternative and whole-body approach to treating and reversing Long COVID symptoms. This includes a wide range of therapeutic options to address your specific needs.
Some of the innovative therapies include:
Peptide therapy: as COVID is a primarily inflammatory condition, the use of immune-modulating peptides such as thymosin α-1 helps to regulate the immune response, which is particularly helping for people who have had an autoimmune condition triggered by COVID.
Exosome Therapy: exosomes are a revolutionary and novel therapeutic for Long COVID, as they aid in the healing and regeneration of tissue. This is particularly effective for patients suffering from respiratory issues, as exosomes can heal the underlying lung tissue and reverse symptoms. They also naturally amplify the body’s own healing response.
It is estimated that nearly 30% of people with even just moderate COVID symptoms will continue to suffer from lung damage and associated respiratory symptoms up to one-year post infection.
Specific herbs, botanicals, and other supplements: a customized supplement protocol is designed for each patient, to reduce inflammation and cytokine levels
Antioxidants: curcumin, black cumin seed oil and glutathione, which reduce inflammation and support brain health.
Natural compounds to reduce clotting: natto kinase and lumbrokinase are enzymes which effectively clear blood clots, including in the lungs.
IV Therapy: highly potent compounds such as Vitamin C, which supports the immune system, as well as powerful antioxidants like glutathione and lipoic acid are even more effective when administered via IV.
Gut Healing and Microbiome Support: as gut dysbiosis is an underlying cause of Long COVID, we take a multi-prong approach to healing and supporting the gut. This includes things like:
Natural compounds that heal intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut,” including BPC-157, which is a peptide which helps to heal the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
Targeted Probiotics: rebalancing the gut microbiome is crucial to healing the gut and reducing inflammation. Therefore, we use a specific combination of strains that are highly effective in healing the gut and reversing symptoms.
Diet and Nutrition Support: our in-house nutritionist works with each patient to develop a plan for incorporating foods that are crucial to gut health into the diet, including things like Omega-3 fatty acids which naturally reduce inflammation, as well as foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics to restore the gut microbiome.
Although there is no medical “cure” for Long COVID, our unique approach addresses the root cause, rather than just treating symptoms. This individualized and innovative approach is why we are seeing so many successful outcomes for our patients.