by Melissa Seifried
Registered Physiotherapist MScPT
updated Jan 30, 2023
1. Long COVID is more common than you think
Statistics Canada published in October 2022 that nearly 15% of people who’ve contracted COVID-19 report that they’ve experienced lingering symptoms three months or more after their initial infection (1). This translates to approximately 1.4 million Canadians living with Long COVID.
2. Long COVID can affect individuals who had no symptoms with initial infection
Some patients may not have been aware they had COVID-19 and only experienced symptoms of Long COVID weeks or months after the fact. More commonly we see symptoms persist from the initial infection that change over time.
3. There is currently no single test to diagnose Long COVID
Physicians working with this patient population rely on blood work, diagnostic imaging and cardiac monitoring to determine the overall health of a patient with Long COVID. These tests can rule out the presence of other associated health conditions. Most testing in Long COVID patients is unremarkable and a diagnosis is made based on the cluster of signs and symptoms an individual presents with.
4. Long COVID is associated with over 200 symptoms
An international study published in 2021 linked over 200 symptoms associated with Long COVID spanning 10 organ systems (2). The most common symptoms we see in our program include fatigue, breathlessness, brain fog and tachycardia (racing heart).
5. Long COVID can affect your mental health
Individuals experiencing Long COVID commonly report impacts on their mental health, including anxiety, depression and PTSD. It is important to reach out to your healthcare providers if you are concerned about your mental well-being.
6. No two Long COVID patients are the same
There is great variety in symptom presentation within the Long COVID patient population; however, individuals can often be grouped into subtypes. Patients enter our program at various stages of recovery and require different management strategies to facilitate their recovery.
7. Exercise can be detrimental to recovery from Long COVID
Depending on the subtype of the patient, exercise may or may not be appropriate initially for recovery. In some patients, exercise will make their symptoms worse and cause them to “crash” sometimes days after the activity takes place. The goal of rehabilitation is to meet the individual where they are at and tailor recommendations to them specifically.
8. Medication can help some Long COVID patients
Certain subtypes of Long COVID patients, including those with orthostatic intolerance or POTS, may benefit from certain medications including Beta Blockers and Ivabradine. Those suffering with depression and anxiety may benefit from antidepressant medications to help improve mood.
9. Lifestyle changes are important in Long COVID recovery
Whether it is reducing your activity level with pacing, altering your diet and water intake or incorporating sleep hygiene strategies, you can expect that you will need to modify your lifestyle in some way in order to see positive change.
10. Most Long COVID patients will get better, but it takes a while
Just as we said no two Long COVID patients are the same in their presentation, no two individuals will recover at the same pace. We see more rapid improvement in those patients who are able to stick to their program and the recommendations provided. We continue to see improvements week over week in our patients’ symptoms and functional abilities, however this change is generally slow.
For more information on our Long COVID program, please click here.
If you believe you or someone you know may be experiencing the effects of Long COVID, please reach out and one of our trained Registered Physiotherapists will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You don’t have to wait to feel better!
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