COVID 19 Treatment – Acute and Chronic/ Long Covid

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Covid-19 has been with for almost 2 years, and will be a part of lives for a long time to come. The impact that Covid-19 has on people experiencing ongoing symptoms beyond their acute infection is drawing increasing attention. A growing number of people continue to feel unwell quite some time after being infected with the SARs-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

COVID 19 is divided into 3 phases:

  • Acute Covid-19: The first 4 weeks following initial infection. Most people recovery fully in this phase.
  • Ongoing symptomatic Covid-19: Symptoms persisting 4 – 12 weeks after initial infection. This may include current symptoms or new Covid-related symptoms.
  • Post-Covid syndrome: Symptoms that continue for more than 12 weeks after initial infection that are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

At Just Physio, our clinical practice is based on the best recent evidence. This enables us to treat each patient as effectively as we possibly can. We carefully tailor each treatment program to our patient’s personal needs.

How to Manage Acute Covid symptoms

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The majority of people who get Covid-19 have only mild symptoms and won’t need to be hospitalised. Mild acute Covid-19 infection may cause symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, feeling tired, muscle and body aches, headache, sore throat, blocked or runny nose, loss of taste and/or smell, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.

The types and severity of symptoms vary significantly between people. The mild disease will not necessarily cause lung infection or reduced oxygen levels in your body. However, Covid-19 can progress rapidly and unexpectedly. People with other health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure need to monitor their symptoms even more carefully since they are at a higher risk of developing more severe diseases.

What to do when you test positive

If you test positive for Covid-19 and start to experience mild symptoms, Just Physio can help you manage, and prevent the worsening of, your symptoms. It is best to receive early treatment to optimise your lung, heart, and muscle function before you start experiencing further problems. The first thing you must do is to isolate yourself from others, wear your mask when you do have people around you, and practice appropriate hand hygiene. We offer home-based treatments for people who are still in the infectious phase of the disease, which is in the first 10 – 14 days since the onset of symptoms or from positive test results. This way, we will help reduce any further transmission of the infection to others and provide you with timely, effective treatment in the comfort of your home. Receiving early treatment also enables us to educate you on how to monitor your symptoms, warning signs of worsening infection, and what to do in an emergency situation where your symptoms may progress rapidly. We will try to work closely with your treating medical doctor as well, to allow for timeous communication with them when needed.

We advise you to monitor your oxygen saturation levels after testing positive for Covid-19, or from the time you start developing symptoms, especially shortness of breath. You can monitor your saturation using an oxygen saturation probe. These are available from most pharmacies. Most of these devices also monitor heart rate, which provides information on your cardiovascular health.

What to expect from a physiotherapy visit

Our first consultation will start with a thorough assessment of your current symptoms and main concerns. We will assess your lung function, cardiovascular condition, and your ability to perform your everyday tasks. We will provide you with valuable information regarding how to self-manage your symptoms, and guide you on how to take care of yourself e.g. staying hydrated and finding a balance between rest and activity using the 4 P’s method. Importantly, we can teach you how to identify warning signs and when you may need to seek further medical help.

Treatment in the acute phase of Covid-19 will most often include education on frequent position changes, deep and slow breathing, how to balance activity and rest, staying hydrated, and eating nutritious foods. Learning how to breathe, with the proper breathing pattern, is vital. Traditional chest physiotherapy techniques like percussions and vibrations may be helpful if you have phlegm on your chest. We also teach you effective ways of getting rid of phlegm. For more information on breathing exercises, please visit the website at https://shiftwork.co.za/justphysio/ and read our blogs on breathing. (https://shiftwork.co.za/justphysio/the-power-of-breathing-well/and https://shiftwork.co.za/justphysio/how-to-treat-you-cough-during-covid-19/

Frequently, positive Covid-19 results come with some feelings of uncertainty and perhaps fear. This stress can make us breathe in a non-ideal way. Bring on symptoms of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing on top of that mental stress, and you have a problem. The effects of non-ideal breathing snowball and result in significant distress and even further respiratory deterioration. As physiotherapists and BradCliff© Breathing trained professionals, we can help you regain control of your breathing, and let you breathe well again. Breathing well is the most important foundation of recovery from any lung problem. We may teach you breathing exercises such as abdominal breathing, pursed lips breathing, lung expansion methods, and using devices such as a bronch-u-vibe to improve your lung capacity. Once your breathing has been optimised, we teach you how to incorporate proper breathing into your daily living. This will prevent activity-related shortness of breath and fatigue.

What to do if your symptoms worsen

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fatigue, or confusion, contact your doctor or an ambulance immediately. Our frequent visits and constant communication with you will enable us to identify the onset of such symptoms before they progress to an emergency situation. Therefore, don’t wait until your symptoms are severe before seeking help.

Contact us for an appointment or a 10-minute non-obligation telephonic discussion as soon as you start experiencing even the slightest symptoms. Alternatively, visit our website at https://shiftwork.co.za/justphysio/ for more information.

How to manage long covid symptoms

Living in a fast-paced world, we often find ourselves striving for deadlines and productivity. However, one very important lesson we can learn from Covid-19, is that REST is VITAL. Proper rest is when your body has the opportunity to recover, heal, and reset. Prioritise rest and sleep, during and after your acute illness. Your physiotherapist can assist you in finding the balance between proper rest and activity, teaching you about Prioritizing, Planning, Pacing, and Positioning (The 4 P’s).

Take cation when returning to daily activities and exercise post-Covid. Fatigue and Post-exertional Symptom Exacerbation (PESE) are very common presentations following Covid-19 infection. We encourage our patients to avoid over-exertion during their recovery phase. This can result in relapse, delay in recovery, and even “crashing” a few days after. It can take anything from 3 to 5 months to recover from long covid symptoms. Physiotherapists are experts in rehabilitation and exercise prescription. We can guide you in your rehabilitation journey to ensure you achieve optimal recovery.
Read more in our blog on Long Covid: https://shiftwork.co.za/justphysio/long-covid/

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