There is no magic pill to fix the problems caused by the assault the COVID-19 infection has had on your body, so self-care is as important in your recovery as working with doctors to manage the treatable medical conditions that Long COVID is causing.
COVID-19 can cause long-term health problems and symptoms that interfere with daily activities. In some cases, these can persist beyond 12 weeks, now referred to as post-COVID-19 conditions, also known as Long COVID, or Post-COVID-19 syndrome.
“As we return to a new normal, clinicians cannot overlook the damage done to their patients’ physical and mental health during this pandemic,” Jonas told Healio Psychiatry. “Thus, patients are forced to care more for themselves. We need to find new ways of providing care and anticipate patient need during and after the pandemic. We need to empower individuals to maintain any healthy habits formed during the pandemic and emphasize strategies that enable them to promote their own well-being — like good nutrition, exercising and stress reduction — alongside guidance from physicians.”
New trends in health care
The shortage of medical staff and available appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the development of ‘DIY’ healthcare dramatically. DIY (Do It Yourself) healthcare is here to stay and may represent a good portion of the healthcare of many people in the future.
So what is it? Essentially, it’s taking a more active role in your healthcare, using everything from smartphone apps to at-home electronic medical devices and tests.
While it’s obviously far from a cure-all, it’s another tool in the box to managing your health.
Smart home devices proliferating
During the pandemic, many COVID-19 patients have been sent home from the hospital with fingertip pulse oximeters to monitor their own oxygen levels as they recover. Other devices monitor not just your oxygen levels at night but also the overall quality of your sleep.
Blood pressure monitoring has become much easier too, with more compact devices, digital displays and the ability to store readings over time. You can even perform your own heart EKGs at home, using a smart device like 24-HOUR AI ECG MONITOR, which, paired with your smartphone, help to capture heart abnormalities that hard to detect at regular checkups.
Easily share your data and reports
Most of us are carrying around very powerful little computers in our pockets or purses: smartphones. People are using smartphone apps (sometimes paired with electronic devices) to record, track, and analyze everything from their medications to their exercise, migraines, foods eaten, to record allergy symptoms or digestive ailments, to glucose levels, for diabetics. It’s certainly a lot easier and more efficient than using a pencil and paper, and at your next medical appointment you’ll have the data readily available to share with your provider.
Self-health monitoring with Wellue O2ring
Robyn Gold has embraced one particular DIY healthcare device. The 62-year-old Framingham resident was diagnosed with sleep apnea several years ago after undergoing an overnight sleep study at a medical facility. She tried and couldn’t adjust to using a CPAP machine while sleeping, which involves wearing a mask that delivers air pressure through the nostrils to keep the airway open.
“I discovered the Wellue 02Ring and immediately decided to give it a try,” she said. “What makes sleep apnea harmful is that it deprives your body of oxygen. The 02Ring enables me to monitor my oxygen levels overnight and it buzzes me awake when they go below a pre-set threshold,” she explained. “It stores sleep data in an iPhone app so I can pore over last night’s sleep records and review sleep trends over time.”
She noted that her oxygen levels stay high most nights and the 02Ring never wakes her up. When it does go off, the act of waking up restores her normal breathing, and she goes back to sleep.
“So, although I bought the device to monitor the state of my medical problem,” Gold explained, “for my mild case, it is able to treat it as well. I am very happy with my device! I even discussed the plan with my doctor, and she approved.”
Using O2ring in COVID-19 recovery
Michael E. Turpin wrote a review about O2Ring™ Continuous Ring Oxygen Monitor, “I’m currently on oxygen after about with covid related double pneumonia. This device has been a Godsend. I manage pulse ox with ease. I check it about 10 times a day. It’s comforting to know my numbers are at my fingertips, literally”.
Benjie bought an O2Ring as part of his COVID-19 recovery, “I need to monitor my O2 & PR as much as I can. O2Ring gave me that option plus some. The Reports were a big plus to my needs. As well as the alarm feature. I just wished it can be used in the shower and also use it while charging so I can gather complete 24hrs stat of my system. I recommend this product for post Covid patients still having O2 stability concerns as well as for Sleep Apnea patients to learn more of your illness”, he said.
Other tips for recovery from Long COVID.
Minimizing physical and psychological stressors is essential in recovery from Long COVID.
Nutrition: Try to eat protein and vitamin-rich foods daily. Avoid chemicals, preservatives, sugars, fast foods, prepared foods, and high histamine foods.
Don’t skip meals. Your body needs protein, vitamin C, and vitamin D to heal from any injury or illness.
Low histamine or low carbohydrate diet is recommended by doctors treating Long COVID (PASC), and many people report a reduction in symptoms within 1-3 days of the diet change, including decreases in sneezing, itching or hives, irritable bowel syndrome, body pain, along with a reduction in swelling and inflammation.
Hydration: A minimum of eight 8 oz glasses of plain water daily is recommended.
Avoid drinks with chemical additives.
You can easily make a fresh electrolyte drink yourself by adding a dash of mineral-rich Epsom salt and a piece of fruit like raspberry for flavor instead of spending money on commercial drinks like Gatorade that contain chemicals and sit in plastic bottles for long periods of time.
Sleep hygiene: Getting 7-9 hours of sleep so your body can repair itself. Your body needs at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep to get into the restorative phase of sleep.
Avoid stimulating activities after dinner like thrilling movies or books, arguments, negative news, or frustrating stimuli.
If you wake up frequently or with a startle, you may be experiencing drops in your oxygen level, which signal your brain to release adrenaline to force you to take a breath.
This could be a temporary inflammation issue or more enduring sleep apnea. Ask your doctor for a sleep study to evaluate your need for a CPAP or BiPAP, a machine that forced air into your lungs when it senses an apneic episode.
Stress management: Everything about the pandemic and being sick is stressful, and it can stress every component of your life. The only thing you can control about stress is your reaction to it.
Try to avoid or minimize your exposure to stressful situations: Turn off the news, make family visits that end unpleasantly short, wait for the morning to have intense discussions, and let go of things that annoy you but don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
Exercise within tolerance: Do not push your body to extremes in any way. For some, this may mean seated breathing exercises or walking to the mailbox.
Pace yourself. Rest when you’re body says to slow down. Gradually build on your activity endurance as your body cues you to progress.
Breathwork: You can literally stop the fight or flight reaction by taking slow deep breaths. This shuts down the adrenaline flow, slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and decreases stress-related histamine release.
When you do this, your blood reroutes back to your brain and nervous system to allow you to think clearly. It also allows your body to use its energy and oxygen to heal your inflamed nerves and organs.
Additionally, health care professionals can make suggestions to tailor the advice for you. The advice in the article should not replace any individualized rehabilitation program or any advice you may have been given by your health care professionals.
Your family and friends can help support you as you recover, and it may be helpful to share this article with them.