Post-Viral Symptoms & What To Do About Them
Post-viral symptoms have been something that I have treated in my practice for over a decade, but only recently have they gained major media attention with lingering COVID symptoms and Long-Hauler symptoms.
The truth is, any virus can cause lingering symptoms and even long term health problems.
Have you ever had a cold or the flu and had a cough that lasted months? Yep… post viral symptoms..
Your body has eliminated the major threat of the virus, but symptoms are still there. This happens for a few different reasons.
The main ones are:
-“Damage” caused by the virus that the immune system isn’t paying attention to.
-Viral Load (enough virus still active in the body to cause symptoms, but not enough to trigger your immune system to actively fight it)
The first one is the most common. It’s that lingering cough after a bad bout with a cold or flu virus. The scratchy throat. The post nasal drip. It’s that annoying symptom that just takes forever to go away.
In this case, we treat the area (typically with acupuncture, herbs, and/or home remedies) to reduce inflammation, and increase circulation to the area. We also help to activate the proprioceptor nerves for that area so that an immune response can be employed to heal the area. This is typically a quick and easy process that will help eliminate those pesky symptoms!
Another example of this is Post-Herpetic Neuralgia. This occurs after having the Shingles. The lesions heal, but you still have nerve pain in the affected area.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can help this a lot, but it is most effective when we start treatment as soon as possible with the onset of the Shingles. Prevention of Post-Herpetic Neuralgia is best… but even if you’ve already gotten it, we can help you to heal much more quickly and completely!
The second two can be a bit more tricky… (BUT! We have solutions!)
The two biggest Viruses that I treat in these categories are Epstein-Barr Virus (often referred to as EBV or Mono) and COVID.
Often times EBV will remain in your body and will result in chronic symptoms like fatigue and brain fog, and sometimes even chronic pain. Often I see these patients come in with the chief complaint of unexplained fatigue (many even have a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia), or they come in for something else, like Low Back Pain, and in the intake process they mention that they also just feel exhausted all the time regardless of how much sleep they get.
I also get a lot of patients who know they have unresolved EBV because their doctors have tested for it… but unfortunately offered no treatment for it…
We look at blood tests to see if there is a viral load. These tests can include straight forward EBV tests, but we also look at the Complete Blood Count with Differentiation (CBC with Diff) which can give us a lot of information about viral load, systemic inflammation, and physiologic stress level of the body.
If it is determined that there is a viral load present, we use protocols to help the body to eliminate it. Our protocols include anti-viral injections, anti-viral herbs, and other compounds like N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) and Glutathione (GSH) that help your body to break down and eliminate the virus.
These patients typically begin to see improvement right away, though the protocol takes an average of six weeks to see maximum benefit, and some more severe cases will require some level of maintenance for awhile.
Post-Viral COVID symptoms need to be broken down into to main categories: Post-Viral Symptoms & Long Haul COVID.
Post-Viral COVID symptoms are very common. It can be various symptoms, but the ones I see the most are: Fatigue, Brain Fog, Shortness of Breath, Sore throat, Nasal Congestion, Headache, Heart Palpitations, and Changes to Menstruation. These are typically somewhat mild, but for some can be quite debilitating.
For this group, we typically use acupuncture and a food based supplement called Cardio-Plus. Cardio-Plus supports nerves and muscles and overall cardiovascular maintenance as well as helps to conserve tissue oxygen which is a major contributor to lingering COVID symptoms. The combination is usually enough to kick these symptoms quite quickly.
If, however, the symptoms don’t greatly improve within about a week, then we will add NAC, injections, and/or herbs which typically will take care of the rest within about another week.
And then there’s COVID Long Haulers… This one is definitely more complicated, especially since, unfortunately, I don’t see these patients until it has been already going on for awhile.
The base of treatment method is similar to the treatment of EBV in that we help to eliminate viral load and systemic inflammation, but then the rest of treatment is very specific person to person.
While we do thorough health history intakes with all of our patients, the health history of this population is especially important and determines the other “legs” of the treatment plan for the individual.
We work closely with these patients with several re-evaluations to ensure that we are tailoring the treatment plan for their individual needs to help reverse their symptoms and get their physiological function restored.
While we have great standard protocols, each individual is different. Their current and previous health history must be taken into account. With Chinese Medicine (and with any true Functional and Holistic Medicine), there can be two things that seem unrelated but have a common root. If we don’t address that root, you won’t get better; so we want to make sure that we are taking all of that into consideration when creating the treatment plan.
If you, or someone you know might be suffering from Post-Viral Symptoms, or are experiencing nebulous symptoms that your healthcare providers have not been able to figure out, come in for a consultation and let’s get to the bottom of it!