Tags: covid | long | haulers | brain fog | fatigue | smell | taste

Treatments That Bring Relief to Long COVID Sufferers

Long COVID at start of long highway road ahead

By    |   Monday, 19 December 2022 02:05 PM EST

A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 3,500 Americans died of long-COVID-related illness during the pandemic’s first 2 1/2 years. The CDC said that as many as 1 in 13 adults in the U.S. experience COVID-19 symptoms that last three or more months. And, as the new report proves, this can be deadly, say experts.

“This is yet another piece of evidence that long COVID can be fatal,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the clinical epidemiology center, and chief of the research and education service at the VA St. Louis Health Care System. “Let’s not trivialize it or say it’s all in people’s heads.”

But there is some hope for long COVID and the symptoms of brain fog, tinnitus, fatigue, loss of sense of smell and taste, and digestive issues that often plague sufferers.  Long haulers can be helped, says Dr. Robert Groysman, a specialist in pain management in Irving, Texas, who says these sufferers may develop depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when their symptoms become unmanageable.

Groysman says that long COVID is an imbalance of the sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight response, which is meant to be temporary but gets stuck in the “on” position, much like a gas pedal stuck to the floor.

“That down-regulates the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for the automatic things we typically don’t think about, such as breathing, swallowing and digestion,” he explains. “Like a seesaw, the two systems need to be brought back into balance.”

Groysman has used two methods to successfully treat patients with long COVID:

Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB). SGB has been useful in treating many disorders, such as PTSD. Groysman discovered that it is also effective against long COVID-19 when he was treating a military veteran for PTSD. “He also had long COVID, and we saw an immediate resolution of his olfactory symptoms with SBG.” In this outpatient procedure, the physician uses ultrasound as a guide to block the nerves used by the sympathetic nervous system to communicate between the head and the rest of the body. The process takes 10 to 15 minutes and is done without sedation. Improvement in taste and smell are usually felt within 5 minutes, says Groysman.

TENS vagus nerve stimulation. The vagus nerve, which is essential to several body functions such as breathing, heartbeat and digestion, may thicken with long COVID. TENS is a small unit that delivers electrical impulses to nerves and is normally used to treat the pain associated with sore muscles. Groysman has repurposed TENS to deliver impulses for vagus nerve stimulation at the ear. He says it may take a month or longer to get results, but patients need to follow a specific protocol. The beauty of TENS is that it is inexpensive and can be done at home.

Additional treatments that may be effective against long COVID include:

Reduce stress. “There have been reports of people’s symptoms disappearing while they’re on vacation and returning when they go back to their everyday stressful lives,” says Groysman. “While yoga, massage, and deep breathing exercises are not cures, they may help.”

Try supplements. According to Cognitive FX, there is limited scientific research on the effectiveness of supplements to treat long COVID. But there is some evidence that taking prebiotics and probiotics can be helpful for digestive issues, and vitamin C may help with symptoms of fatigue. Melatonin has also been found useful in patients suffering from high levels of inflammation by successfully lowering the levels of circulating cytokines, proteins that can increase inflammation in the body.

Seek therapy. According to Healthline, researchers have found that individuals with long COVID are two times more likely to receive a first-time antidepressant prescription than patients who did not develop the condition. Dr. Gurbinder Sadana, medical director of the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Post COVID-19 Recovery Program, says “this can lead to deeper depression and even suicidal ideations.

“These most vulnerable patients should be recognized early on, and directed toward psychotherapy, including considerations of psychotropic medications,” he says. Sadana adds that some hospitals offer support groups and special centers for individuals with long COVID symptoms. Your healthcare provider can help you find one. 

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A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 3,500 Americans died of long-COVID-related illness during the pandemic's first 2 1/2 years. The CDC said that as many as 1 in 13 adults in the U.S....
covid, long, haulers, brain fog, fatigue, smell, taste, loss, digestive, issues, stellate ganglion block, vagus, tens, nerve, stimulation
Monday, 19 December 2022 02:05 PM
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