Long Covid

Hello and welcome to what I hope will be the first of many items I put up on this blog site concerning holistic healthcare.

For many years working as a holistic practitioner I have been advocating ‘self-care’ as an essential element of personal healthcare. I also believe in keeping things simple, if we can do simple things that help keep us healthy then I can’t think of any reason why not. The new condition known as Long Covid is just such a case where simple selfcare techniques can improve the quality of life, help recovery, and, even in emergencies may save lives.

This current Covid pandemic does give us pause for thought about our healthcare system. There are deep issues concerning, amongst other things; levels of pollution linked to respiratory disease; how we make sure school children get a good meal inside them every day: and, how we protect the most vulnerable people in our society, in particular our front line staff.

I hope to say something about these issues in later posts, but for today I want to concentrate on the long term effects of Covid and what we can do from a self-care perspective.

First then the scary stuff ! I will get onto the selfcare aspect shortly, so if you want to skip this bit go to the last few paragraphs, but if you want a bit more technical detail read on.

So, one of the most scary aspect of the long term effects of Covid is that it can affect anyone. There is even some information that the worst affected are those who had the mildest symptoms when they first got infected. The good news is that early intervention really seems to help.

Even scarier, is the rapid deterioration in people if the condition is not picked up quickly, particularly in respect to their respiratory function. That is why Oximeters are being distributed to Long Covid patients, they are simple to use and can give you an immediate indication of the oxygen levels in your blood.

If the virus has affected arteries, or blood tissues it means the ability of the blood to get oxygen around the body is compromised, and that may mean body tissues are suffering from lack of oxygen leading to long term damage, and possibly organ failure. So even though someone’s lungs may be working and they are breathing ok they may be having a silent organ failure.

Anyone with suspected Long Covid should get an Oximeter as a matter of urgency, and monitor themselves hourly, any reading below 95% they should phone 111, and below 92% get to A and E.

For those not in this kind of emergency condition doing any form of breath exercise to make the lungs work will help, for example, the National Theatre are pioneering teaching singing techniques to a group of Long Covid patients as part of a selfcare programme.

Any singing exercises would be ok, and there are many online groups or choirs that will use breath techniques as part of their warm-ups. There may be a local singing coach or choir leader that could suggest a few exercises.

Similarly are many versions of breathing techniques which you can get by ‘Googling’ or searching Youtube; the one that was widely viewed at the beginning of the pandemic was called the ‘Covid breath’, and it involved an element of expulsive breath to clear the mucus from the air ways; other breathing techniques expand the lungs then force the air out vigorously. If in doubt consult your local GP or Holistic health practitioner.

The point here is that at the height of full inhalation Nitric Oxide is produced in the lung tissue which expands the blood vessels taking the oxygenated blood from the lungs to the body, so the deep breaths are maximising the delivery of oxygen to the body tissues, and therefore is deeply preventative medicine minimising any complications from oxygen starvation in body tissues. The more you do it the more it will help.

I taught several breath techniques on my courses, particularly with my ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia patients and got good results as part of holistic management of the condition. One woman had a hysterectomy during the course of our time together and whilst in hospital she could see her vital signs on the machines to which she was hooked up, and she could see how she could alter her O2 levels by doing her breathing techniques.

Now for the good news I promised I will close by giving you this recent real life example.

One of my ME/CFS patient (called L) was been tested positive for Covid on January 5th, but had been having symptoms since January 2nd. L had been in bed most of the time and experiencing difficulty breathing, but was not hospitalised. L was retested on Jan 23rd as L wanted to recontact family members but was tested positive again. L had bought an oximeter as a precaution, and the first measurement taken was 77% and L was struggling to breath, and found the situation alarming.

As an immediate course of action L took several deep breaths and the reading went up to 88% ‘quite quickly’. Then L used the following technique deep breath in through the nose to a slow count of 4, then held the breath for 5 and out through the pearced lips for 6, expelling as much air as possible. L reported ‘within minutes my level was 97. I continued doing this several times an hour, whilst sitting down and managed to maintain 97. This is now up to 99’

It may too much to say this was a life saver, and other techniques are available but as an emergency first aid technique and an easily learnt and performed beneficial habit, there is much to gain from keeping it simple and simply ‘doing it’.

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