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  • Writer's pictureEinav

Feelings of exhaustion after recovery from Covid-19

Updated: May 24, 2020

When I called Sally to ask her how is she getting on with the foot pain she had been struggling with before the lockdown, she said that it was a lot better since she has been resting in bed for four weeks fighting Covid-19 in her London home. She suffered from shortness of breath at times but gradually improved until most of the symptoms disappeared. What surprised her was the fact that she was left with extreme fatigue. She described an exceptionally long, slow process of recovery even after the virus symptoms were behind her. Every time Sally tried to go for slow, short walks, she noticed her pulse rising to more than 150 ppm (pulse per minute), her breathing become faster and shallower and she felt like she had just completed a marathon. Even having a long phone conversation exhausted her and she needed many rest breaks when doing usual activities in the house.

Sally is only in her mid 40’s without any underlying conditions and was in good physical shape before this began. It was very surprising for her to see how much impact the virus left on her lungs, heart and muscles. She also found it hard to know what exactly to do to get herself better and felt guilty every time she tried to go for a longer walk but simply couldn’t make it more than a few hundred meters.

Why you feel fatigued and what steps you can take to feel better:

Covid-19 attacks the body, particularly the lungs. Your body will fight the virus, consume a great deal of energy doing so and this causes extreme fatigue.

If you’ve had to stay in bed for a period of time you will lose muscle strength very quickly.

The severity of your symptoms and the length of time you have been ill will determine your physical state when you have recovered from the virus.

How to build up your strength!

1. Be kind to yourself. It will take time - this is NOT a case of the more you do, the quicker you will recover but quite the opposite.

2. Gradually start to perform daily activities. Take breaks frequently and don’t push yourself too hard. If your lungs have been affected and you experience shortness of breath or a racing heart STOP AND REST. BE VERY CAREFUL not to overdo it.

3.Use the BORG SCALE This scale goes from 0 (complete rest) to 10 (maximum effort). It’s a good guide to help you gradually build strength and see how you are progressing.

For example, if you initially rate walking 100 meters as 3 out of 10 (3/10) and then after 4 weeks you rate walking 1 mile 3/10 you can see the improvement you are making.

Be careful in the first few weeks to only do activity that is easy, no more than 3-4/10, because over-exertion will adversely affect your body, increase your fatigue and put you back to square one.

After 5-6 weeks should you start to increase your effort and move onto exercise which you consider to be 6 or 7/10.

The best way to progress your rehab is to seek advice from a Physiotherapist.

A physio will check your breathing and teach you how to take your pulse. This will give a clear indication of how to improve your stamina, build strength and return you to full activity. A physio will teach you graduated functional exercises, answer your queries and help sort out any problems you may have.


For more information about the best way to recover from Covid-19

If you would like additional information about ways to recover from Covid19 and to discuss how we may be able to help, please contact us or leave a message.

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