Are you safe from Chronic Covid? Probably not.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, more and more information is emerging about what happens after we "recover" from COVID-19. For millions of people around the world, their symptoms of COVID-19 do not disappear. This condition is known as chronic COVID.
We don't know much about chronic COVID-19, but we do know that everyone is at risk. Young or old, healthy or impaired, you can develop chronic symptoms following COVID-19. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and know how to fight it.
Who's catching chronic COVID?
While older adults receive vaccine priority, new and increasingly contagious COVID-19 strains spread throughout the U.S, and lockdown measures lessen. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more young adults becoming infected with COVID-19. The British coronavirus strain, B.1.1.7, is now the most dominant coronavirus strain in America. With an increased transmissibility rate and a higher viral load, the non-vaccinated population of America (made up largely of 18-39-year-olds) are at an increased risk of coronavirus infection.
And these young adults are not easily fighting off the infection as expected. Hospitalization rates of young adults for severe COVID-19 cases have increased immensely throughout the entire country. By the end of March 2021, 18-49-year-olds had the same hospitalization rate as those over the age of 65.
But even without a severe infection, young adults are still at risk of developing chronic COVID. More than 1 in 4 adults aged 18-34 will have lingering symptoms after “recovering” from COVID-19. Of those diagnosed with chronic COVID, 32% had asymptomatic infections. These findings thwart previous notions of chronic COVID only affecting those with severe symptoms.
Much about chronic COVID-19 is still unknown. It has only recently emerged and while new studies are being published every day, simply not enough time has passed to know everything about the disorder.
What we do know is some of the signs and symptoms of chronic COVID, they include:
Loss of taste and smell — even if this didn’t occur during the height of illness
What we don’t know is why chronic COVID-19 occurs and how long symptoms are expected to last. However, a newly published Swedish study offered further insight into how long people can expect to see the symptoms of chronic COVID-19. The researchers found that over 1 in 10 healthcare workers with mild symptoms in their initial coronavirus infection still had “at least one moderate to severe symptom 8 months later.” The study also observed that:
26% of participants who had mild COVID-19 symptoms reported at least one moderate to severe symptoms that lasted over 2 months.
11% of participants with mild COVID-19 symptoms had at least one debilitating symptom that lasted for over 8 months.
It is important to note that the majority of the participants were women and the average age was 47. These demographics are opposite of those expected to suffer from severe coronavirus infections- males 65 or older.
And further studies aligned with these findings. Women are more likely than men to suffer from chronic Covid-19. This is likely due to women having a stronger immune system than men. Because of women’s strong immune response to the coronavirus, the immune response could produce lingering effects. Further, one study found 12.5% of men and only 2.6% of women with severe Covid-19 had neutralizing immunoglobulin antibodies that end an immune response.
Mitochondria & the brain
As described in our earlier blog, on chronic COVID-19 and the brain, many of the neurological symptoms of chronic COVID can be explained by mitochondrial damage. Researchers have already proven COVID-19 “hijack” and manipulate mitochondria in the host cell in an effort to evade host immunity. We also know that COVID-19 can infiltrate the brain and inhabit it longer than other regions in our body- which may be due to the immune system's access to the brain.
If COVID-19 is in the brain and affecting mitochondria, the cells it impacts will eventually lead to neurological damage. These effects will last far longer than the virus is actually inhibiting the body, as the mitochondrial damage will already have been done. But COVID-19 can do more than damage mitochondria, it can also cause mitochondria to commit cell suicide and no longer function.
Damaged or diminished mitochondria will lead to a hypometabolic state. Hypometabolism can lead to chronic fatigue, low stamina, brain fog, insomnia, anxiety, and many more debilitating symptoms. Unsurprisingly, these symptoms mirror nearly exactly those of chronic COVID-19.
How to treat chronic COVID?
When you enter a hypometabolic state, the best thing you can do is rest and supplement with proper nutrients to stimulate mitochondrial regeneration. But unfortunately, young people with chronic COVID-19 are unlikely to do so. This will only lead to symptoms worsening- as the remaining mitochondria are not equipped to provide energy for daily function.
The only way to begin to treat hypometabolism and chronic COVID-19 symptoms is to first know if mitochondrial damage is the root of the problem. There are several tests one can undergo to learn how and why mitochondria are not functioning properly and where exactly the mitochondrial damage occurred. The best test to look at mitochondrial function is the Organic Acid Test and Amino Acid Analysis.