How to cope with post covid fatigue

Post covid fatigue is a common and persistent problem that affects many people who have recovered from COVID-19. It is not just feeling tired, but a lack of energy that interferes with daily activities and quality of life. In this article, we will explain what post covid fatigue is, what causes it, and how to manage it.

What is post covid fatigue?

Post covid fatigue is a term that describes a range of symptoms that can last for weeks, months, or even years after having COVID-19. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Physical fatigue: feeling exhausted, weak, or out of breath after doing simple tasks
  • Mental fatigue: having difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Emotional fatigue: feeling low, anxious, or irritable
  • Sleep problems: having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling refreshed after sleep
  • Pain: experiencing headaches, muscle aches, or joint pains
  • Other symptoms: such as dizziness, palpitations, chest pain, or loss of taste or smell

Post covid fatigue can affect anyone who has had COVID-19, regardless of the severity of the illness or the age of the person. However, some factors may increase the risk of developing post covid fatigue, such as:

  • Having a pre-existing chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, or autoimmune disease
  • Having a history of mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety
  • Being female, older, or obese
  • Having a long or complicated hospital stay
  • Experiencing severe stress or trauma during or after the infection

What causes post covid fatigue?

The exact cause of post covid fatigue is not fully understood. It may be due to a combination of factors, such as:

  • The direct effects of the virus on the body and the brain
  • The immune system’s response to the infection and the inflammation it causes
  • The psychological impact of having a life-threatening illness and coping with its aftermath
  • The social and economic consequences of the pandemic and the lockdown measures

Some researchers have suggested that post covid fatigue may be similar to other post-viral syndromes, such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). These are complex and poorly understood conditions that cause persistent and disabling fatigue and other symptoms after an infection. However, more studies are needed to confirm this link and to understand the differences and similarities between post covid fatigue and CFS/ME.

How to manage post covid fatigue?

There is no specific treatment for post covid fatigue. However, there are some strategies that can help you cope with it and improve your recovery. Here are some tips:

  • Pace yourself: do not overdo it or push yourself beyond your limits. Plan your activities according to your energy levels and take breaks when you need them. Avoid doing too much on good days and too little on bad days. Find a balance between rest and activity that works for you.
  • Prioritize: focus on the most important or enjoyable tasks and delegate or postpone the less essential ones. Set realistic and flexible goals and celebrate your achievements. Do not compare yourself to others or to how you were before COVID-19.
  • Seek support: talk to your family, friends, or health care provider about how you feel and what you need. Join a support group or an online community of people who have similar experiences. Ask for help when you need it and accept it when it is offered.
  • Take care of yourself: eat a healthy and balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Try to get enough sleep and follow a regular sleep routine. Do some gentle exercise, such as walking, stretching, or yoga. Find ways to relax and cope with stress, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or hobbies.
  • Be patient: recovery from post covid fatigue can take time and vary from person to person. Do not blame yourself or feel guilty for feeling this way. Recognize your progress and acknowledge your challenges. Be kind to yourself and hopeful for the future.

Post covid fatigue is a real and challenging condition that affects many people who have had COVID-19. However, it is not permanent and it can get better with time and proper care. By following these tips, you can improve your well-being and quality of life after COVID-19.

For more information on post covid fatigue, visit the CDC website.

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