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A group to support long COVID - what is it about?

Updated: May 31, 2023

Our County Durham Resilience Team run a group for people in the community who are impacted by long COVID. What is long COVID? This is where you may feel the symptoms of COVID-19 even after you have recovered from the initial diagnosis of COVID.

The most common symptoms include extreme tiredness, fatigue, feeling short of breath, loss of smell, muscle aches. However, there is a growing number of other symptoms associated with long COVID, which can be memory problems (sometimes known as brain fog!), chest pains, insomnia, dizziness, depression and anxiety amongst others that you can find here.

What can you expect from attending the group? The group takes place at Sedgefield Community Hospital and is ran by our team along with Dr Gibson. Attending the sixth session, the group started with some fun ice breakers, including a 'memory game' that is designed to get the brain ticking ahead of the session and is a great exercise for helping with brain fog. The group also has a 'brain fog week' session, where all group attendees can discuss their recent brain fog, but importantly they have joke about it as they said it helps to feel like everybody is 'in it together' and that the symptom can be a real pain of long COVID.

Attendees mentioned that their brain can only hold so much since having long COVID, and that often they take pictures to make sure they don't forget things, which they find useful if they have a lot of things to remember. Group goers often spoke about having the 'anxiety of forgetting' which added to the brain fog, this then transitioned into Dr Gibson reminding them about the breathing exercises that they have been practising, which many stated helped to 'clear their mind' in stressful situations to help clear some brain fog.

The session was based around diet and nutrition, and how gut health is directly linked to the stress response system. The key message was gut health can become unbalanced with long COVID. When overly stressed the gut lining system can become inflamed and the session was dedicated to making sure everyone has a good balanced diet so it reduces the chance of an inflamed gut lining system. As stated by Dr Gibson, it is natural that when we are fatigued we tend not cook or eat proper food, we can 'binge eat' or eat more unhealthy food as it is easier and quicker.

This is where the session really promoted the benefits if a healthy balanced diet as it can reduce stress and improve our immune system, which directly helps counter the gut health issues of long COVID due to stressing. Ways to do this are increasing whole foods in your diet and reducing processed foods, such as more fruit and vegetables, balanced portions of pasta, bread and rice, but at the same time keeping everything balanced, don't completely cut out sugary foods. Everything in moderation is key.

Our team then worked with the group to get the body moving. This included simple yet effective exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home, which gets the whole body moving from head to toe. Just in this one session, the group came away feeling rejuvenated and happy they attended which many looking forward to the next one, as they take away so much information that positively impacts their day and knowledge surrounding their long COVID.

The PCP deliver the County Durham Community Resilience Team in partnership with East Durham Trust, Home Group, Northern Learning Trust and Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services.

If you would like to you can refer yourself or a client for support from the service, simply get in touch via PCP reception on 01325 321234, email, or visit the self-referral page.

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