When 33-year-old Katie Timmerman examined optimistic for COVID-19 in January 2022, the busy vp of a PR agency in Oklahoma Metropolis, Oklahoma, figured she’d be sick for a number of days.
Her solely signs have been a nasty headache and a sore throat, she stated.
However then the complications grew worse and have been typically debilitating — they usually by no means left.
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Now, over a yr later, Timmerman nonetheless experiences extreme each day complications, one thing she stated she by no means handled earlier than she got here down with the virus.
“They at all times originate behind my head, reaching from ear to ear and descending into my neck,” she advised Fox Information Digital.
“Conventional ache relievers and most migraine drugs do not contact them.”
Typically the complications include nausea and bouts of mind fog, she stated — which make it troublesome for her to focus or suppose clearly.
Timmerman is amongst many — one in each 13 adults within the U.S., per CDC knowledge — that suffer from “lengthy COVID,” which is marked by signs that persist for 3 months or longer after an infection.
Girls are practically twice as doubtless as males to fall into this group, the CDC additionally stated.
Now, a brand new examine led by Harvard T.H. Chan College of Public Well being, which was revealed in JAMA Inside Drugs, suggests that girls who take steps towards a wholesome life-style can reduce their lengthy COVID threat in half.
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In 2017, as a part of a previous examine, greater than 32,000 feminine nurses starting from ages 55 to 75 accomplished questionnaires about their health-related behaviors. Later, for the lengthy COVID examine, researchers analyzed practically 2,000 of these girls who had examined optimistic between April 2020 and November 2021.
6 wholesome life-style components that matter
When figuring out the well being of every lady’s life-style, researchers thought of six vital components: weight loss program/diet, bodily exercise, physique mass index (BMI), smoking exercise, alcohol consumption and sleep patterns.
Girls who led wholesome life for many of these components have been about half as more likely to endure from lengthy COVID in comparison with those that didn’t present wholesome behaviors in any of the six areas.
The examine additionally discovered that unhealthy life-style components contributed to persistent irritation, blood clots and disruptions to the immune system, all of which have been related to lengthy COVID.
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The findings didn’t shock Dr. Christian Sandrock, who makes a speciality of rising infectious ailments on the UC Davis Medical Heart in Sacramento, California.
His clinic has handled a whole lot of sufferers with lengthy COVID prior to now two years, with girls making up the bulk.
“We do know that individuals with preexisting cardiac and metabolic situations — which embody these with diabetes, coronary heart illness and hypertension — are usually extra in danger for creating lengthy COVID,” Sandrock advised Fox Information Digital.
“Should you get COVID and also you’re already dwelling a more healthy life-style, you will be more likely to return out on the opposite facet with fewer long-term penalties.”
As folks with much less wholesome life usually tend to have these situations, it stands to purpose they’d be extra weak to extended COVID signs.
“Should you get COVID and also you’re already dwelling a more healthy life-style — in the event you’re fitter, consuming higher, exercising recurrently, sleeping higher and you’ve got decreased your stress with issues like meditation or yoga — you will be more likely to return out on the opposite facet with fewer long-term penalties,” Dr. Sandrock stated.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply somebody with a wholesome life-style is resistant to lengthy COVID.
Timmerman thought of herself to be in good well being previous to getting the virus, with no pre-existing situations or considerations.
“I used to be health-conscious with my diet, our household was lively outdoor, and I used to be additionally absolutely vaccinated in opposition to COVID on the time I contracted it,” she stated.
Figuring out and treating lengthy COVID
The World Well being Group (WHO) defines lengthy COVID as “the continuation or improvement of recent signs three months after the preliminary SARS-CoV-2 an infection, with these signs lasting for not less than two months with no different clarification.”
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Steven G. Deeks, M.D., is a professor of medication at College of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and a college member within the division of HIV, Infectious Ailments and World Drugs at Zuckerberg San Francisco Normal Hospital.
He and his crew are following a cohort of 700 COVID sufferers, 200 of whom have lengthy COVID.
“Everybody experiences lengthy COVID in a different way,” he advised Fox Information Digital.
“And people experiences can range from week to week and month to month. It’s a set of many non-specific signs, which makes it very difficult to deal with.”
Presently, Deeks’ major remedy for lengthy COVID contains rehabilitation and bodily remedy.
“Lengthy COVID is a set of many non-specific signs, which makes it very difficult to deal with.”
In Timmerman’s case, her complications started on the exact same day she examined optimistic for COVID.
Her medical doctors dominated out different attainable causes by imaging and blood exams, main them to contemplate the complications as lingering lengthy COVID signs.
In the present day, Timmerman wants each day ache relievers to operate; she’s had some success with a migraine treatment referred to as Qulipta.
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“I am now working with a neurologist, who’s digging deeper to see if she will be able to uncover any further points or underlying causes of the persisting complications, or if they will simply proceed to be handled as persisting lengthy COVID complications,” she stated.
Complications aren’t the one ailment related to lengthy COVID.
Sandrock of Sacramento has seen sufferers affected by lingering chest ache, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, sleep issues, despair, nervousness and different signs lengthy after the onset of the virus.
The excellent news: Dr. Sandrock is seeing a decline in traditional lengthy COVID circumstances over time.
“I believe the virus itself has modified and has develop into extra of a cold-like virus. And extra persons are vaccinated, in order that they’re getting much less extreme illness,” he stated.
Simply as a wholesome life-style will help stave off lengthy COVID, it might probably additionally function remedy.
And many individuals with lengthy COVID do get higher, he stated — though it typically appears like a protracted, sluggish slog.
“I often ask my sufferers: Should you look again, how did you’re feeling three or six months in the past, and the way do you’re feeling now? They often understand that they’re undoubtedly higher. Perhaps six months in the past, they could not even get away from bed for 10 minutes, and now they’ll work for 2 hours a day.”
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Simply as a wholesome life-style will help stave off lengthy COVID, it might probably additionally function remedy, specialists recommend.
In efforts to search out aid from her debilitating complications and return to some sense of normalcy, Timmerman has centered extra on diet and train since getting the virus.
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“Caffeine gives some aid for my complications, so tea and low have develop into each day rituals in my life,” she stated.
“I’ve additionally seen that train is useful for relieving a number of the discomfort, so I’ve made a good greater effort to incorporate common bodily exercise in my each day routines. I’ve additionally integrated therapeutic massage remedy into my life.”