5 Strategies to Build Resilience, According to a Doctor
While we could don’t hear daily Covid-19 numbers anymore, the virus has not gone away. In the UK alone, thousands of new cases continue to be recorded every day.
Meanwhile, there is a very large group of people for whom the virus has not disappeared in a different sense – those suffering from Long Covid. For these people, symptoms persist after the infection itself has passed (technically, beyond 12 weeks after infection).
The most common symptoms of Long Covid include fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of smell. But people with Long Covid report a range of symptoms.
Long Covid Symptoms
For many people with Long Covid, their symptoms affect their ability to live and work normally. Symptoms can last a few weeks for some people, while for others they can last much longer.
We don’t fully understand why Covid-19 is happening for a long time, but one theory is that it’s due to an overreaction of the immune system or blood vessels.
Between 3% and 12% of people who contract Covid-19 then develop Long Covid. Around 2% of people in the UK are currently suffering from Long Covid.
The data indicates that women are more likely to develop Long Covid, and people aged 35 to 49 are most likely to have symptoms compared to other age groups. Having certain health vulnerabilities, such as a weakened immune system, also makes people more vulnerable. This does not mean that other groups such as men, children and young adults cannot be affected.
In fact, it is estimated that around 250,000 people aged 17-34 in the UK currently have Long Covid. Notably, many young people with Long Covid likely have not lived with a long-term illness and therefore may be unfamiliar with navigating the healthcare system, which can be tricky.
I’m a GP, and here are my top five tips on what to do if you think you might have Long Covid.
5. Know if your symptoms need urgent attention
If your symptoms seem potentially serious, do not delay in seeking medical attention. If you have symptoms such as persistent chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, or confusion, or if you are unable to speak or move your arms or legs, you should get help through the emergency department or by calling 999 if you are in the UK or 911 if you are in the USA
Otherwise, proceed to the next steps.
4. Register with a doctor
If you are not registered with a doctor’s office, do so as soon as possible. Access to primary care in the UK is free regardless of immigration status. But not all hospital care is free for everyone.
(If you are outside the UK, refer to your state health department guidelines.)
3. If you have symptoms, contact your doctor
I know it can be frustrating – I have trouble getting an appointment with my own doctor. If you have energy, call the office early in the morning. If you are offered a phone appointment, take it and you may be offered an in-person appointment later.
If you cannot be reached by phone, complete the online form with your concerns if your doctor’s office offers it on their website. If you still can’t reach your doctor’s office after trying at different times of the day during the same week, you might consider changing practices.
2. Have an idea of what you expect from the date and be prepared
What are you worried about? Would you like to be examined? Do you need your doctor to disconnect you from work? Be clear with what you expect and hope to get from the date – this will help the date go as smoothly as possible. It may be a good idea to write down a list and discuss it with your doctor at the start of the appointment.
During the appointment, certain things can happen. You may be asked questions about your symptoms or asked to complete a questionnaire. If you can wear easily removable clothing, do so, especially if you are likely to be examined. For example, if you feel short of breath, wear a loose shirt because the doctor will probably want to listen to your chest.
You may be offered blood tests, an ECG (which checks heart rhythm) or even a chest X-ray to look for the cause of your symptoms. After that, your case details might be sent to the local Long Covid clinic or for review by a team of experts (called a multidisciplinary team), where you might undergo tests and treatments not available at your doctor’s office.
1. Look for other resources
You may find it helpful to visit the NHS COVID Recovery website or access the Long Covid support resources online. These provide links to patient forums, support services and symptom-specific advice.
There may also be a role for non-medical therapies such as yoga and drama, although there is limited evidence to show that these can support people with Long Covid. Interestingly, a recent study found that a six-week breathing program led by opera singers improved the mental health, but not the physical health, of people with Long Covid.
In our clinic, we observed that people who did not rest while critically ill with Covid-19 and immediately afterwards were more likely to develop a more severe version of Long Covid. This observation has been supported by recent survey data.
So rest while you are sick with Covid-19 and even once you recover, especially if you can afford it.
This article was originally published on The conversation by Dipesh Gopal at the University of London. Read the original article here.