Life After COVID-19 for Thyroid Patients
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For many people, COVID-19 viral infection involves mild symptoms for several days, followed by recovery and a return to normal — much like a flu or bad cold.
We are now learning, however, that after COVID, some people develop organ damage. A small percentage of people develop long-lasting, unresolved symptoms that continue past the period of active infection. This is being referred to as “long COVID” or “long-haul COVID.”
Let’s take a look at what you can do to optimize your health after a COVID-19 infection.
Normal Recovery After COVID
It’s normal after any viral infection (including COVID-19) to feel some fatigue. If you have an autoimmune thyroid condition, you may find that your recovery from even mild COVID-19 takes a little longer than in others.
One important reminder: Get sufficient rest, aiming for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night during recovery. You should also eat a nutritious, protein-sufficient diet. And, don’t go overboard with exercise and physical activity until you’ve had enough time to fully build back your strength. Gentle stretching, walking, and some weight-bearing exercise can help you slowly restore your energy and exercise tolerance.
Experts on nutritional rehabilitation also recommend that after a viral infection like COVID, you supplement (or continue to supplement) with Vitamins C, D, zinc, and probiotics, to help support immune and gut health in the aftermath of your illness.
Post-COVID Organ Damage
Be aware that even patients who had mild COVID symptoms are showing evidence of organ impairment and damage. In particular, experts are finding heart, lung, and kidney damage in as many as one-third of COVID patients, even among young patients who had mild COVID and didn’t need to be hospitalized.
If you have any new symptoms that appear after your apparent recovery from COVID-19, be sure to consult your doctor right away.
Long COVID / Long-Haul COVID
Research has found that around 13% of people with COVID-19 symptoms are symptomatic for more than 28 days. Around 4% of patients report continuing symptoms after more than 56 days.
Long COVID symptoms typically include:
- shortness of breath
- extreme fatigue
- loss of ability to taste and smell normally
- chest and lung pain
- joint and muscle pain and weakness
- low grade fever
- inability to concentrate (brain fog), memory lapses
- changes in mood, sometimes accompanied by depression and other mental health problems
- sleep difficulties
- pins and needles in arms and legs
- diarrhea, vomiting
- sore throat
- new onset of diabetes, hypertension, thyroiditis
- skin rash
- heart palpitations
Risk Factors for Long COVID
The risk factors for long COVID include:
- Being female
- Having more than five COVID symptoms during initial infection
- Excess weight or obesity
- Age over 50
I personally know many people who had COVID in the earlier days of the pandemic — March and April of 2020 — and had moderate symptoms that did not require hospitalization.
It’s been months since they tested positive, but my “long COVID” friends are still going through continuing or relapsing/remitting periods of significant symptoms…almost a year later.
Unfortunately, despite trips to cardiologists, pulmonologists and other specialists, my friends (like most long COVID patients) are finding few answers in traditional conventional medicine.
UP NEXT: SHOULD THYROID PATIENTS GET THE COVID VACCINE?
An Integrative Approach to Long COVID
One expert who IS having good results with long COVID patients is Jacob Teitelbaum, MD. Dr. Teitelbaum — a global expert for 40 years in treating chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and post-viral syndromes — has applied his ground-breaking and multi-disciplinary SHINE® protocol to helping patients recover after COVID infection.
Dr. Teitelbaum’s placebo-controlled landmark research showed that the SHINE protocol resulted in an average 90% increase in quality of life.
Here’s the general outline of the protocol:
- S: Sleep – Ideally 8–9 hours per night of good quality sleep
- H: Hormones – Making sure that underlying hormonal issues (including thyroid, adrenal, sex hormone, and blood sugar) are balanced, and hormones optimized
- I: Immunity/Infections – Identifying and treating any other underlying infections, such as viral, bacterial, bowel, sinus and yeast infections
- N: Nutrition – Ensuring that you get optimal nutrients, especially Vitamin B-12, magnesium, acetyl L-carnitine, glutathione, and A, B, C and D vitamins
- E: Exercise – as able, increasing slowly, to avoid “post-exertional malaise.”
According to Dr. Teitelbaum:
I feel post-COVID can be effectively treated and now. The problem is not lack of effective treatments, but rather lack of effective physician education.
In addition to the SHINE protocol, Dr. Teitelbaum recommends several other approaches for recovery, including:
- A serum protein extract called Recovery Factors.
- Ribose: A type of sugar that increases mitochondrial energy. Dr. Teitelbaum’s “Smart Energy System” formulation combines ribose with several other energy-maximizing herbs.
- Anti-inflammatory support, with curcumin supplements CuraMed and Curamin.
- Zinc supplementation (20 to 40 mg a day) for immune function
- Immune modulation with prescription Low Dose Naltrexone (3–4.5 mg)
Dr. Teitelbaum’s SHINE protocol and recommendations are outlined in comprehensive detail in the recently published updated edition of his book, From Fatigued to Fantastic.
Thyroid Problems After COVID-19
Whether or not you have a pre-existing thyroid condition, you should be aware that there are also reports that after COVID infection, there is an increased risk of developing subacute thyroiditis, which is also known as De Quervain’s, granulomatous thyroiditis, or giant cell thyroiditis.
In subacute thyroiditis, the thyroid goes into a period of hyperthyroidism and inflammation as a result of viral attack. Symptoms typically include pain in the thyroid area, anxiety, hair loss, weight loss, feeling hungry, high heart rate and palpitations, tremors, excess sweating, and diarrhea.
After the initial hyperthyroid period, subacute thyroiditis can then move into a period of hypothyroidism, with symptoms including fatigue, depression, weight gain, brain fog, and constipation.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms after COVID, it’s important to see a physician as soon as possible for further thyroid evaluation.
Autoimmune Conditions After COVID-19
Some researchers are now also reporting an increased incidence of the new onset of autoimmune conditions after COVID-19 illness.
Research has reported new onset lupus, hemolytic anemia, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipid syndrome, and other diseases.
After a COVID-19 infection, be on the lookout for the new onset of any common autoimmune symptoms, such as:
- Joint and muscle pain, aches, and swelling
- Skin problems, rashes
- Abdominal pain or digestive issues
- Recurring fever
- Swollen glands
- Trouble concentrating
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Hair loss
- Rapid changes in weight
If you have any of these symptoms, you should consult with your physician as soon as possible.
If you’re a long COVID patient, you may want to join the large Body Politic support group of COVID survivors at https://www.wearebodypolitic.com/covid19.
Body Politic also has a comprehensive list of resources, including support groups, videos, and resources for long-term COVID survivors, at https://www.wearebodypolitic.com/resources.
About the COVID-19 Vaccine
Right now, experts don’t know for certain whether everyone who has COVID-19 becomes immune, how long that immunity may last, or if the immunity is even sufficient enough to prevent re-infection.
Public health experts are recommending that those who have had COVID-19 consider getting vaccinated when the vaccine is available. For more information, see our article on the COVID-19 vaccine.