Living with Long COVID and COPD
If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you know how much it impacts your ability to breathe. When those with COPD are infected with COVID-19, your respiratory condition can become even worse. While many people recover from COVID-19 relatively quickly, some people can experience long-term effects, known as Long COVID.
According to the CDC, 13.3% of people who have COVID-19 will have lingering side effects for at least one month after they’ve been infected. If someone had COVID-19 and was hospitalized, that number goes up to more than 30% and comes with reports of experiencing side effects even after 6 months.
We spoke to a woman named Amy whose father is suffering from COPD and Long COVID simultaneously. Before he contracted COVID-19 in October 2021, he had minimal symptoms and the occasional wheezing. Unfortunately, his experience with COVID-19 was very severe, to the point that he had to be hospitalized because his sodium levels brought on delirium, causing him to experience memory issues that went as far as not knowing his own name.
How COVID-19 Affects the Lungs
COVID-19 can affect the body in many ways, but it most commonly attacks the respiratory system, which is why so many people experience coughing, shortness of breath and trouble breathing. In order to infect your cells, the virus that causes COVID-19 attaches a protein along your airways that allows it to move into its cells and spread. Consequential inflammation damages the air sacs by causing scars, stiffening or fluid build-up. When that happens, oxygen isn’t able to pass through the lungs into the bloodstream and low blood oxygen levels produce symptoms like breathing problems.
Symptoms of Long COVID
According to the American Lung Association, any combination of these symptoms can be a sign of Long COVID:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest or stomach pain
- Joint pain
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Mood changes
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating (brain fog)
- Muscle pain
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Intermittent fever
- Pins and needles feeling
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Depression or anxiety
- Changes in taste or smell
- Changes in menstrual period cycles
How COPD Affects the Lungs
COPD is a group of respiratory diseases that block airflow and cause other breathing problems, putting those affected by it at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 complications like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and acute respiratory failure. Less air is able to flow through the airways of those with COPD because the airways and air sacs in the lungs are no longer able to stretch and shrink, the walls of the air sacs have been destroyed, the airway walls have become thickened and swollen or the airways are making an abnormal amount of mucus that is causing a clog to block air flow.
After being infected, Amy’s father experienced a COVID-related heart attack in January 2022. Shortly afterward he began suffering from more severe symptoms of COPD, like the inability to breathe and a second visit to the hospital a week after his heart attack. Now, 9 months later, her father is still experiencing breathing problems.
Some of the side effects of the medication he is taking for his COPD symptoms include:
- Raspy Throat
- Heart Strain
- Low Blood Pressure
How to Support Your Lungs Naturally
Maintaining the health of your lungs is extremely important no matter what conditions you are experiencing. U.S. Doctor’s Clinical developed Lung Support to help encourage normal lung health every day. Lung Support is made with a targeted blend rich in antioxidant vitamins and traditional herbal compounds that support a normal inflammatory response. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in 2013 found that participants taking Lung Support reported a positive enhancement in the respiratory system in just 12 weeks. One of the key ingredients in the Lung Support formula is Asian ginseng. Researchers found ginseng was able to support the normal lung function and exercise in participants with COPD.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions.” 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).” 2020.
- The American Lung Association. “Long COVID (Post COVID-19 Conditions).” 2022.
- University of Maryland Medical System. “COVID and COPD.” 2022.
- Mount Sinai. “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” 2022.