Post Viral Fatigue - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

While we are living through the time of COVID-19, something that a lot of people may be unaware of is the continued fatigue patients experience even after the initial viral infection has gone. Fatigue is a common symptom of different types of infections, and normally this symptom will go away once the body has fought the infection successfully. However, post-viral fatigue is the continuation of the fatigue symptom after the viral infection is no longer there.

Fatigue is described as a feeling of exhaustion, this can be both physically and/or mentally, and this feeling is different from normal tiredness that most people regularly experience. Sufferers of fatigue may feel exhausted even after having plenty of sleep or rest. Post-viral fatigue can affect people of all ages and fitness levels and is not based on the initial illness. Someone who was very ill with a viral infection could recover and have no ongoing symptoms, whereas someone who had a mild viral infection could go on to suffer from fatigue for a long period of time after. Some other symptoms of post-viral fatigue can include concentration issues, sore throat, headaches, muscle or joint pain, as well as swollen lymph nodes.

It is now coming to light that COVID-19 patients could be at risk of developing the neuroimmune condition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), which depletes a person’s energy. CFS leaves 75% of its sufferers unable to work, and a quarter of them homebound, this condition affects 15-30 million people around the world, and the symptoms of this condition can be brought about by an infection. It is now being discovered that some patients of coronavirus are now showing signs that are associated with symptoms seen in CFS patients.

The recovery phase of post-coronavirus is still being researched and observed, and numerous studies are being carried out at present to understand the effects of COVID-19 in different patients, as well as their functioning during the recovery phase. The recovery time from post-viral fatigue will differ from person to person and there is no established timeline as it can take weeks, months or even years to get to the point of returning to all daily activities. Post-viral fatigue is not completely understood as to why it happens, and therefore there are currently no clear treatments, instead, it is more about managing the symptoms of the condition.

Post-viral fatigue is not the only effects of COVID-19, even for those of us who haven’t had the virus, there have also been effects on a lot of peoples mental and physical health that have come with the extreme changes to our daily lives, as well as our jobs, finances, and even being away from family and friends for long periods of time. We have had to live through the constantly-changing rules related to lockdowns and social distancing that have made many of us feel exhausted, stressed and helpless while dealing with an uncertain situation, and not knowing when or if our lives will return back to normal- these unanticipated circumstances we find ourselves could also induce stress, fatigue, anxiety and exhaustion in all of us at different degrees.

Post-viral fatigue is not exclusive to COVID-19 but is a condition that can be brought about by any mild to severe viral infection, however, this does show another possible resulting effect of COVID-19, that patients of the virus may have to deal with after their bodies have successfully fought the illness.