Chronic hypoxia and long COVID - All you need to know
Chronic hypoxia is a condition that develops when the body does not get enough oxygen over a period of time. This can lead to certain deleterious health problems, including heart disease and cognitive impairment. Long COVID is when COVID-19 causes symptoms that last for weeks or months, long after recovery from the initial infection and even after they are no longer infectious. These symptoms may come and go over time. Up to 30 per cent of people who had a COVID-19 infection may experience long COVID symptoms.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is a term used to explain the lasting effects of COVID-19. While most people who contract the coronavirus recover within a few weeks, some people continue to experience symptoms for months after their initial infection. These symptoms can include fatigue, brain fog, muscle pain, and difficulty in breathing. The occurrence of long COVID is not related to the severity of initial infection.The exact cause of long COVID is not yet known, but it is thought that the virus may cause lasting damage to the body's organs and tissues. In some people badly affected by long COVID, serious health problems such as heart disease and chronic lung disease may ensue.
How long COVID is linked to hypoxia?
Monash University in Australia has been investigating the phenomenon of so-called "long COVID," where patients continue to experience symptoms months after first becoming infected with the coronavirus.1A recent study2 found that hypoxia - a condition where the body is starved of oxygen - may be a critical factor in developing long COVID. The researchers believe that hypoxia may cause long-term damage to the lungs, which in turn may lead to the development of chronic fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms associated with long COVID. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, they provide a potential explanation for why some people suffer from long COVID after seemingly recovering from the initial infection.
Safest method to cope with chronic hypoxia associated with long COVID
Chronic hypoxia is a common complication associated with long COVID. A recent study found that nearly one-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 experienced some form of oxygen deprivation. This can lead to many problems,including fatigue, anxiety, and brain fog.
If you have long COVID, it is essential to adopt a healthy lifestyle and do everything possible to optimise your oxygenation (for example: have regular deep breathing exercises outdoors).
Inflammation and long-term hypoxia are some factors contributing to long COVID. So, it is helpful to eat a healthy diet with oily fish, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to combat inflammation. Adopting lifestyle practices that improve your body oxygenation will help to reduce hypoxia.
1. Not getting over it: The long, rocky road to recovery from COVID-19. (https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2021-articles/not-getting-over-it-the-long,-rocky-road-to-recovery-from-covid-19)
2. Long-term COVID-19 symptoms. (2021, May 11). Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. (https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2021-articles/long-term-covid-19-symptoms)
3. The long-term effects of COVID-19. (2021, November 9). Monash University. (https://www.monash.edu/news/articles/the-long-term-effects-of-covid-19)