COVID is causing persistent symptoms that can last weeks or even months after recovery. Everyone from hospitalized individuals to those who recover at home is reporting these symptoms. After COVID-19, symptoms can affect endurance, strength, balance, the ability to breath, think, move, and the ability to sleep. Recent research shows that 80% of people continue to have symptoms after two weeks of having COVID-19.
In this blog, you will learn how COVID-19 destroys the lung’s protective mechanism to fight disease, the most common symptoms after initial recovery, and how Physical Therapy can minimize the after COVID-19 symptoms and improve life quality.
The reasons why patients continue experiencing symptoms after COVID are still uncertain. Studies have shown that post COVID patients present a decreased lung capacity and are more susceptible to respiratory issues even after one year of having COVID.
How are the lungs protected from infection?
The defense mechanism of the lungs to fight infection are mucus and cilia. Mucus keeps the airway hydrated, prevents the lungs from drying, and protects them from the disease. Cilia is a hair-like structure covering the inside of the nostril down to the upper lungs. Cilia works in conjunction with the mucus to move mucus up and out of the lungs and eliminate potentially harmful viruses, bacteria, or fungi.
What happens to the lungs during COVID?
Cilia has specific receptors Called ACE2 found in the lungs, heart, kidney, liver, digestive system, and intestines. The ACE2 receptors regulate blood pressure, inflammation, and wound healing. COVID depends on the ACE2 receptor to infect the cells. Once the virus attacks the ACE2 receptors, the virus goes inside the body cells and starts to replicate. This replication produces new virus cells destroying cilia and their ability to fight to protect the lungs from disease.
These dead cells fill the lungs with fluids and debris. The mucus is unable to hydrate the lungs and becomes thicker. The excess of fluids and mucus produces pneumonia. As the infection continues, the lung damage worsens, causing shortness of breath and other medical complications.
What are the most common after COVID-19 symptoms?
Symptoms that persist for two or more weeks after COVID-19.
Five most common symptoms after COVID:
- Brain Fog
- Hair loss
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Other after COVID-19 symptoms include:
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Night sweats
- Joint pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of taste and smell
- Digestive problems (constipation, acid reflux).
Recent research reported that fatigue is the most common symptom even after 100 days of the first symptom of COVID. The most common mental conditions still presented after COVID are anxiety, insomnia, confusion, and depression. Hair loss is another symptom commonly reported as a result of systemic stress or infection.
What causes COVID brain fog?
Recent research released on February 12, 2021, reported the presence of megakaryocytes cells in the brain capillaries in 15 autopsies performed at Johns Hopkins University in patients with COVID who complained of brain fog. These cells are in the bone marrow and lungs.
The megakaryocytes cells make platelets to help the blood clot. These cells may be impeding the blood flood and reducing oxygen to the brain, producing brain fog.
How can Physical Therapy help with after COVID-19 symptoms?
Physical therapy creates an integrated approach to improve respiratory function, strength, mobility, balance in a safe way according to the patient’s needs and expectations.
Benefits of physical therapy include:
- Improves rib cage expansion, spine and arms mobility to reduce shortness of breath.
- Reduces pain or discomfort in the lower back and neck as a result of prolonged bed rest.
- Prevent acid reflux and constipation.
- Strengthens core muscles and postural muscles.
- Improves balance (weak diaphragm breathing muscle affects balance).
- Enhances posture (muscle tightness across chest, neck, upper and lower back may affect posture alignment)
- Reduces anxiety and depression with breathing techniques.
If you are dealing with fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, headaches, difficulty sleeping after the onset of COVID-19, call now to find out how Physical Therapy can help you recover faster, breathe more comfortable, and effortless: 805-203-9940
The information in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. Its content is based on evidence-based medicine, knowledge, and experience as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).