Is fatigue a sequelae of COVID-19?


Is fatigue a common symptom of COVID-19? Many people are asking, and the answer is: fatigue is actually a common symptom of any viral infection.

Feeling exhausted from time to time is a common occurrence in life. Fatigue, however, is another matter: According to MedlinePlus, fatigue occurs when a person is less energetic, exhausted, or tired. In some cases, a person’s fatigue can be compounded by a lack of motivation to do things. So, how can we tell if fatigue is due to the coronavirus or if there is another reason?

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Is fatigue caused by COVID-19 common?

In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed fatigue as an official symptom of COVID-19 as of March 2022, but it does not automatically mean that you are infected with the virus.

Most viral illnesses leave people feeling exhausted, which has to do with the cytokines that your immune system produces when it’s under attack. These cytokines signal to your body that it’s time to go to work and fight the infection, but the aftermath can leave you feeling exhausted. After all, your body is focusing its energy on fighting the invader, even if you can’t see it.

Experts have also found that some people face long-term effects from COVID-19, known as post-COVID symptoms. These symptoms include problems such as difficulty breathing, sleeping problems and fatigue that can affect a person’s daily life.

In a study published in Scientific Reports in August 2021 , researchers conducted a literature review on the long-term effects of COVID-19. Of the 15 studies that met the inclusion criteria, 80% of COVID-19 patients experienced at least one long-term symptom—fatigue was one of the most reported symptoms among 58% of patients.

How to determine whether your fatigue is a symptom of COVID-19?

It’s a little hard to pin down, but generally speaking, in addition to fatigue, there are other symptoms, such as muscle aches, pains, or a sore throat, even if they are sometimes mild.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists several common symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Of course, these are possible symptoms and may appear differently as the virus changes and in those with other underlying health conditions:

  • Fever and chills
  • cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • fatigue
  • Muscle or body pain
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

Consider other causes of fatigue

Other causes of it may be due to stress in your work environment, family life, staying up late, and over-exercising.

Additionally, Harvard Health Publishing, via Harvard Medical School, explains other common conditions that overlap with COVID-19 symptoms. These conditions include the common cold and the flu. All of these conditions can present with cough, fever, and sore throat, and all can cause fatigue.

Of course, if it is interfering with your daily life, seek help from your doctor. Or get a checkup. There are many health issues and lifestyle factors that may contribute to fatigue, and a health professional can help understand your specific needs.

How to treat fatigue caused by COVID-19?

There are ways to manage it during or after you have COVID-19. Researchers publishing in the Indian Journal of Tuberculosis in April 2022 offer the following suggestions for overcoming fatigue after COVID-19 infection:

  • Rest and allow time for recovery
  • Stay active but stay active
  • Balanced diet
  • Suspension of study or work duties

The CDC also offers recommendations for preventing COVID-19 infection, such as getting vaccinated and monitoring health for signs and symptoms of the disease. As of January 2022, the CDC is also aware of reports of side effects, including it, after people received the COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, however, most side effects have been reported to be mild or moderate.

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