According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 American adults who have contracted COVID-19 experience symptoms lasting longer than three months. Often referred to as “long haul COVID”, these lasting side effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus commonly include but are not limited to: fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, headache, neurological issues, gastrointestinal problems or pain, and loss of taste or smell. In other words, right now, roughly 16.3 million Americans are dealing with not only health complications but reduced quality of life and a significant disruption to daily living, to say the least. In fact, the latest Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) in June 2022 revealed as many as 4 million of those cases were so significant they resulted in patients being unable to work, accounting for an estimated 15% of the labor shortage.
With such an impact on both an individual and societal level and the risk of contraction still an ever-present reality, it’s essential to know what treatment options exist for patients with long haul COVID. Currently, standard care relies heavily on the use of antibiotics — a questionable practice considering that two years into this method, patients are still not achieving results. (Not to mention the consequences of antibiotic overuse on long-term health, as these medications disrupt the gut microbiome, where roughly 80% of the body’s immune cells lie.) Thankfully, there IS a better way to support long haul COVID patients.
At Michigan Health and Wellness and Hyperbaric Wellness Center, we treat all patients with a functional medicine approach — a holistic treatment model that considers each individual medically, physically, neurologically, and psychologically, rather than treating health problems merely as isolated diseases. In the context of long haul COVID, this means focusing on:
- Addressing any pre-existing conditions that may contribute to inflammation and COVID symptoms, such as diabetes, obesity, or auto-immune conditions
- Resolving leaky gut and dysbiosis, which many researchers have hypothesized may be caused by and/or connected to COVID
- Providing proper nutritional support to the body
- Improving sleep, one of the most impacted cycles by COVID that can lead to additional complications down the line
- Restoring the immune system and stimulating the healing process from the inside-out
Our team works closely with each individual on a case-by-case basis to formulate the treatment that will best work for their unique situation. Additional commonalities in our long COVID protocols include a regimen of immune-boosting supplements, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), and hyperthermic ozone treatments. Clinical studies show that hyperbaric oxygen chamber has been shown to produce cognitive improvements, improve energy and sleep, reduce fatigue, and decrease inflammation in long haul COVID patients by delivering 100% oxygen to the cellular level of the body (compared to the 21% oxygen that we typically breathe). Meanwhile, hyperthermic ozone acts as an effective detoxification strategy, helping the body eliminate toxins, viruses, and waste that is compounding upon an already compromised immune system.
By considering the whole picture of health for each individual and using multiple treatment avenues to restore the body’s natural healing processes, functional medicine has been able to provide many patients lasting relief from long haul COVID. As the leading center of functional medicine in Traverse City, we’re proud to provide all of the therapies you need (and more!) to treat long haul COVID under one roof. If you or a loved one has been suffering from COVID symptoms for more than a few weeks, reach out to our team for a free consultation today and find out how we can help.