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Suite B, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Acute and Long Covid-19

We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of...

Acute and Long Covid-19

The CDC estimates 10-30% of people who were infected by Covid-19 are experiencing a wide range of ongoing health problems for weeks, months, or even years post-infection. The condition is known as Long Covid, Post-Covid Syndrome, Long Haulers, and/or Post-Acute Viral Syndrome. If not properly addressed, this could result in disability and become a major health care burden in the coming years. Our physicians at Aspen Integrative Medical Center specialize in the diagnosis and management of acute and long Covid-19. We’ve seen that the causes and symptoms of long Covid-19 are quite similar to other severe chronic illnesses our physicians frequently treat such as Lyme disease, mold toxicity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Please call our office today to schedule an appointment and take the appropriate steps towards resolution of your symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Long Covid?
  • Symptoms may persist from acute infection or may be new onset following initial recovery from acute infection. And symptoms may fluctuate or relapse over time.
  • It is not viewed as a single illness, but instead a collection of numerous symptoms and diagnoses. Symptoms often occur in clusters, overlap with each other, and can involve all organ systems.
  • Long-term symptoms are experienced by a significant number of patients irrespective of the severity of initial illness. 
  • Common symptoms include:
    • Constitutional: fatigue, brain fog, headache, weight loss/gain
    • Psychiatric: anxiety, depression, PTSD, social isolation 
    • Neurological: peripheral neuropathy, persistent loss of smell/taste, encephalopathy, stroke, dysautonomia, speech difficulties
    • Cardiovascular: chest pain, palpitations, tachycardia, myocarditis, pericarditis, heart failure, arrhythmias, peripheral limb ischemia, congestive heart failure from cardiomyopathy
    • Musculoskeletal: muscle pain, joint pain, physical debility 
    • Dermatologic: erythematous or urticarial rash, alopecia, erythema multiforme-toes
    • Pulmonary: shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, oxygen dependence, interstitial lung disease 
    • Hematologic: venous thromboembolism, microclots
    • Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating, low appetite, nutritional insufficiency 
    • Kidney: kidney injury (Chronic kidney disease) 
    • Endocrine: diabetes mellitus, thyroid abnormalities
    • Gynecological: painful, irregular periods; infertility
    • Genitourinary: overactive bladder symptoms
What are the risks of developing Long Covid?

While Long Covid appears to be more prevalent in people with severe Covid-19 illness, anyone who had mild or no symptoms can experience persistent symptoms as well. Clinical evidence is pointing to a person’s prior immune system function, inflammation levels, toxin load, and infection load as potential risk factors; however, any otherwise “healthy” person irregardless of vaccine status can develop Long Covid. This likely occurs because the infection can tip the scale bringing occult disease into the light and/or lowers a person’s susceptibility to another disease process.

What are the causes of Long Covid?

The pathophysiology is similar to other chronic, complex illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), Mold Illness, and Lyme Disease. The cause is often multifactorial and each of these causes should be considered: 

    • Persistence of inflammation in the body and immune system dysregulation.
      • Neuroinflammation (brain inflammation) seen in long Covid-19 is the same inflammation levels seen with traumatic brain injuries and concussions.
    • Impaired mitochondrial and metabolic activity. 
    • Autonomic nervous system and endocrine system dysfunction. 
    • Viral-induced autoimmunity.
    • Secondary and/or reactivated infections such as EBV, CMV, Mycoplasma, and tick borne.  
    • Alterations of gut microbiome leading to intestinal candida, dysbiosis, IBS, and leaky gut. 
    • Microcirculatory and endothelial cell damage causing fibrosis, hypercoagulation, low oxygen levels, and scarring.
    • Tissue damage to the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, pancreas, thyroid, and/or muscle tissue. 

On-going hidden reservoirs of the virus in the sinuses, brain stem, and gut.

What is the initial workup of Long Covid?

Initial work-up involves gathering an extensive patient history, physical exam, and testing to rule out other conditions and identify impaired organ systems. Bloodwork often includes CBC, CMP, vitamin D25OH, fibrinogen, d-dimer, hsCRP, AM cortisol, thyroid panel, sex hormones, insulin, HgA1c, ferritin, iron studies, CD57, auto-immune testing, and co-infection testing. It may also include referrals to specialists for evaluation and imaging (chest x-ray, EKG, colonoscopy, etc). Specialized testing may include stool analysis, tick borne diseases panel, mold mycotoxin levels, heavy metal testing, food sensitivity testing, genetic testing, and so forth. 

What are common treatments for Long Covid?

It’s important every person receives an individualized treatment plan focused on addressing their specific root cause(s). Integrative medicine shines in its ability to combine the best of naturopathic, conventional, cutting-edge, and traditional therapies to help a person feel better faster. It’s also vital to optimize detoxification, sleep, nutrition, exercise, and mental/emotional health, so a person experiences a deeper healing response.

Most Promising Treatment Ideas: 

    1. IV therapy – Enhanced Myers, NAD, ozone, EGCG, and resveratrol. 
    2. Compounded medications – Low Dose Naltrexone to reverse auto-immunity and decrease pain levels, Methylene Blue to improve mitochondrial function and fight infection load, and Alinia to fight persistent infection and gut dysbiosis. 
    3. Anti-inflammatories – fish oil, curcumin, and Boswellia, and Pycnogenol. 
    4. Cardiovascular supports – hawthorne, bilberry, horse chestnut, Korean ginseng, Ginkgo, and garlic. 
    5. Immune function supports – vitamins D3/A/C/E, zinc, selenium, Astragalus, Japanese knotweed, Chinese skullcap, and medicinal mushrooms. 
    6. Gut healing – probiotics, Saccharomyces b., L-glutamine, slippery elm, and marshmallow root. 
    7. Nasal and sinus therapies such as nebulizing NAC, colloidal silver/EDTA nasal spray, and essential oil steam inhalations. 
    8. Peptide therapies to re-regulate biochemical pathways – BPC-157, TA-1, and LL-37. 
    9. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy to promote oxygen diffusion and tissue regeneration.
Why is naturopathic medicine best suited to address Long Covid?

Naturopathic physicians are trained to diagnose and manage such complex, multi-system disease such as long covid. Our physicians have the knowledge and diverse skillset to help you heal from Long Covid and prevent recurrence through health optimization. The goal of treatment is to not only return to normal work and social activities, but instead thrive in a healthier and more resilient body. Covid-19 is likely here to stay, so let’s all be even stronger the next time we face it!

The first step in management of Long Covid to identify
the underlying causes, so treatment can be individualized
and specific to what is preventing you from healing.

Find answers to your chronic Long Covid symptoms at Aspen.