Fatigue after COVID is way more than just feeling tired. Five tips on what to do about it

People are often surprised by how tired they are during a COVID infection.

Fatigue is more than being worn out or sleepy. It’s an excessive tiredness that persists despite resting or good sleep. It’s likely a result of our body’s strong immune response to the virus.

But in some people the fatigue drags on even when the infection is gone. This can be debilitating and frustrating. Simply resting more makes no difference.

Here’s what we know about post-COVID fatigue, and what can help.

Fatigue or tiredness? What’s the difference?

The term fatigue can mean different things to different people. Some people mean their muscles are easily weakened. Walking to the mailbox feels like they have run a marathon. Others describe a generalized exhaustion, whether they are moving or not. People can experience physical, mental or emotional fatigue, or any combination of these.

The difference between tiredness and fatigue is this: tiredness can get better with enough rest, while persistent fatigue even if someone is sleeping and resting more than ever.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Study finds people are ten times more likely to be reinfected with omicron

How big a problem is this?

Because there is no agreed definition of post-COVID fatigue, it is impossible to give exact numbers of how many people experience it.

Estimates vary considerably worldwide. One review of 21 studies found 13 to 33 per cent of people were fatigued 16-20 weeks after their symptoms started. This is a worryingly widespread problem.

When should I see my GP?

There are many potential causes of fatigue. Even before the pandemic, fatigue was one of the most common reasons to see a GP.

Most serious causes can be ruled out when your GP asks about your symptoms and examines you. Sometimes your GP will investigate further, perhaps by ordering blood tests.

Symptoms that should raise particular concern include fevers, unexplained weight loss, unusual bleeding or bruising, pain (anywhere) that wakes you from sleep, or drenching night sweats.

If your fatigue is getting worse rather than better, or you cannot care for yourself properly, you really should seek medical care.

.

Leave a Comment