Could there be a link between contracting covid-19 and the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome? As more and more cases of covid-19 ‘long-haulers‘ are confirmed, a correlation is starting to form.

Deaths from covid-19 continue to fall in the UK. However, many patients have been suffering with symptoms of the virus for months on end, which leave them at risk of experiencing chronic disability from their illness.

What is Chronic Fatigue?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), is a long term illness with a range of different symptoms affecting all parts of the body. These include sleep problems, extreme fatigue, muscle or joint pain, headaches, problems with memory, a sore throat and more. People often receive this diagnosis after 6 months of unremitting fatigue.

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Many who suffer with CFS find that exercise only worsens their symptoms. The impact on everyday life can be huge. Action for ME’s big survey found that of people surveyed, ‘three quarters (77 per cent) said they are unable to work because of the impact of ME.’ Further to this, 94 per cent said they reduced social contact and 88 per cent stopped or reduced household tasks.

Exactly what causes chronic fatigue is unknown, but it is is suggested that it could be a combination of factors such as a weakened immune system, a viral infection and psychological stress.

The main demographic affected by CFS is people in their forties and fifties. ME Research Uk has stated that ‘ME/CFS affects more women than men, in an approximate ratio of 4:1′ but it can also affect young people and even children.

What’s the link between Chronic Fatigue and covid-19?

Chronic fatigue symptoms sometimes arise in the aftermath of a serious viral (or bacterial) infection.

Researchers fear that a long-term bout of covid-19 could leave many patients with Chronic Fatigue symptoms. A large percentage of those recovering from covid-19 have reported feeling exhausted and like they have been “hit by a truck”. It should be noted that, in some of these cases, there is overlap between these reports and symptoms of CF/ME.

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Those already suffering from Chronic Fatigue could also be at higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus due to operating with a strained immune system. However, more data is needed to fully discern the extent of the effect covid-19 can have on long-term immune-system issues.

Are there any solutions?

There is no cure for covid-19 yet and the timeline of when one might be found is blurry at best. However, there are a few things people can try to manage their Chronic Fatigue symptoms, whether they’re a result of “long-haul” coronavirus infection or not.

Home Remedies

Having a balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating foods rich in probiotics (such as yoghurt and sauerkraut or kimchi) can help to support the immune system.

GET (Graded Exercise Therapy)

GET is a form of symptom management that uses regular physical exercise at a low-level in order to get the body to adapt and increase its tolerance to daily exercise. This method is still quite new, so its effectiveness is still being assessed.

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CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy)

This is a form of talk therapy that attempts to bring you a holistic understanding of your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.

Seeing a Nutritional Therapist

Many nutritional therapists can give you valuable advice about managing conditions such as CF/ME. They work on your diet and suggest supplementation to support your immune system.

Chornic Fatigue is without a doubt a debilitating condition, but many patients have reported improvements in their symptoms after trying a combination of these methods. As more information comes to light about the correlation between Chronic Fatigue and covid-19, maintaining a healthy lifestyle seems more important than ever.

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