Coping With Long Covid: Treatment Strategies That Work

June 20, 2024

Hardly anyone talks about COVID-19 anymore. Four years after the lockdowns and shutdowns that defined 2020, the viral illness has all but disappeared from conversation. It’s rarely featured on the home pages of websites, the front pages of newspapers, or as the top story in nightly news broadcasts. 

Yet for millions of people who once had the disease, there is no forgetting. That’s because they are dealing with its aftermath every day. Their bodies are still weakened, their immune systems remain compromised. Some have been unable to return to work. Many have lost jobs. Long Covid was first identified in the pandemic’s early days. Today, the search for solutions remains elusive. Still, there is hope. 

New research suggests that lifestyle changes including alterations to diet and fitness regimens along with supplementation and medication can make a real difference. Some suggest that these changes are a reliable long Covid treatment.  However, it’s nearly impossible to successfully make these changes without help. Long Covid can make it difficult to get out of bed, let alone embark on a new treatment regimen. That’s why it’s so important to work closely with a trusted medical professional. Read on to learn more about exactly what is long Covid, possible paths to recovery, and how Kyla Clinics can help pave the way to wellness

What is Long Covid?

Spreading outward from China in late 2019, COVID-19 was the seventh coronavirus identified in the past 20 years. Related to SARS viruses that had already caused epidemics across Asia and Africa, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) spread much faster. The Covid incubation period was not only shorter but as the virus rapidly mutated the time from exposure to full-blown illness diminished to just a few days. These vital distinctions between SARS‐CoV‐2 and earlier SARS viruses led many to question if its origins were also different. Yet years after its discovery, the virus’s origins remain mired in mystery and controversy. 

The initial explanation was that the virus that causes COVID-19 was incubated in an infected animal – most likely a bat. Bought and sold at one of the region’s notorious “wet” markets – site of other animal-to-human infections – the creature infected its buyer who infected other people. In many scholarly examinations of the origins, Chinese-based scientists still come down solidly on this side. They pointed to how other outbreaks had spread from animals to people. However, unlike many earlier viral spreads, COVID-19’s animal source has never been identified. This is one reason why even in the pandemic’s early days, many were focused on Wuhan, not wet markets. No other city in all of China was as focused on coronavirus research.

The “lab leak” theory traces COVID-19’s origins to the aptly named Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). At the lab, gain-of-function research was conducted – experiments with manipulating viruses to make them spread faster and infect more severely. Given the relatively brief Covid incubation period, some wondered if SARS‐CoV‐2 was one of the viruses created at the institute. Indeed, lab employees were amongst the community’s earliest virus victims. 

In early 2023, the U.S. Energy Department released a report favoring the lab leak theory. By then the FBI had taken a similar position. However, other government agencies, including the CDC, favored the wet market origins theory. As David Relman, a Stanford University microbiologist, told The Wall Street Journal, “Kudos to those who are willing to set aside their preconceptions and objectively re-examine what we know and don’t know about Covid origins. My plea is that we not accept an incomplete answer or give up because of political expediency.” 

Yet when it comes to treatment for long Covid, the virus’s origins matter less than first answering the question how long do Covid symptoms last? For most people, symptoms disappear in a week or two. Yet for many, the novel coronavirus behaved in a decidedly non-novel way. That’s because like many other respiratory illnesses, its symptoms can linger for months. 

Only weeks after the pandemic swept across the globe, researchers realized some people who got infected weren’t improving. In late 2020, the BBC reported that an estimated 10 percent of all people who had the disease suffered fatigue at least two months after it cleared their system. Today an estimated six percent of the U.S.’s total adult population is battling long Covid. As described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Long Covid is a serious illness that can result in chronic conditions requiring comprehensive care.”

Although there are a constellation of long Covid symptoms, the most common ones are fatigue, muscle pain, and inability to exercise. Battling a chronic disease usually affects one’s mood, but depression and other mental health issues appear to be one of the symptoms of long Covid – independent of long Covid severity. Other symptoms of long Covid include fever, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and brain fog – the inability to concentrate or answer even simple questions. 

Studies suggest that the majority of people with long Covid experience progressively milder symptoms. Unfortunately, just 15% recover completely, Most continue to battle symptoms years after contracting the virus. Surprisingly, not everyone currently diagnosed with long Covid symptoms was symptomatic when they were infected. They were either completely unaware that they had contracted COVID-19 or only knew because they received a positive test result. Then, weeks or months later they got sick and stayed sick.

“I feel time pressure with these patients,” David Putrino, director of rehabilitation innovation at New York’s Mount Sinai Health System told Time magazine. “Every second that we’re not testing something new or trying something that’s a moonshot for these patients, they’re getting worse.” Four years after first being identified, there remains no long Covid treatment that’s widely accepted. However, recent studies suggest that there are steps anyone can take which will reduce its severity and may even eliminate long Covid symptoms

Long Covid Treatment 

“Miracle cures” often attach themselves to persistent, chronic conditions. People lose hope. After a while, some are willing to swallow anything in hopes of feeling better. It’s important to recognize that anyone promising a guaranteed “cure” for long Covid is lying. Long Covid treatment, however, comes with options. Not every treatment works for every patient. 

Those who suffered the most from COVID-19 are also the most likely to endure long Covid. This includes people with body mass indexes (BMI) over 25; the CDC reports that amongst obese people (having a BMI over 30) the risk of hospitalization is tripled. Also likely to suffer from long covid are people who were seriously ill before contracting the virus and those with commodities like having both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. When the virus initially spread, one of the biggest questions was when are you contagious with Covid? Today, a huge question for many who were infected is how to reduce the severity of long Covid symptoms?

Most options that successfully manage long Covid symptoms are the ones deployed to lose weight, control blood sugar, and improve heart health. Increasingly doctors and nutritionists are recommending plant-based approaches to eating like the Mediterranean Diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. People on these diets eat five or six servings of fruit and vegetables daily. They also reduce or eliminate added sugar and salt along with highly processed foods including lunch meats and microwaveable meals. Dieters snack on nuts and incorporate small portions of lean meats like poultry and fish into their meals.

Several studies have suggested plant-based diets can have a positive effect on the length of the Covid incubation period and the severity of the illness. One showed that individuals on a plant-based diet had a 9% lower risk of Covid-19 infection and a 41% lower risk of severe Covid-19 while another showed those on a plant-based diet had a 73% lower risk of moderate-to-severe Covid-19. In the case of long Covid treatment, “While diet alone is not a cure for post-viral conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, it can play an essential role in managing symptoms and supporting overall health and well-being,” Kelsey Costa, a registered dietitian nutritionist with National Coalition on Healthcare (NCHC) told Medical News Today. 

Just as plant-based diets are helpful in treating a variety of conditions – including as a long Covid treatment, foods that fight inflammation and increase good bacteria in the gut microbiome are also vital. Eating prebiotic and probiotic products like bananas and yogurt may assist with the gut microbiome which is often compromised during long COVID (as some report issues with stomach upset and other gastrointestinal discomfort). This may partly be due to the death of good bacteria in the gut during the disease – which may persist with long Covid.  

Similar results have come from increasing exercise, even if it just means walking around the block. Admittedly, this is challenging for anyone battling a respiratory illness and should only be embarked upon under the careful guidance and observation of a physician. 

When it comes to potentially successful long Covid treatment, two vitamins have consistently been mentioned. First identified as a possible path to reducing the severity of COVID-19 infections, Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body when exposed to sunlight. It’s also present in whole milk, tuna fish, swordfish, salmon, and sardines along with the yolk of eggs. The Vitamin has been added to fortified foods like skim milk. 

In the pandemic’s early days, Vitamin D deficiencies were identified amongst many people who were ill. Studies connected to increasing the amount of the vitamin in Covid patients yielded promising results. Whether or not it reduced the length of the Covid incubation period remains unknown. As reported by Yale Medicine in 2024, “Now, a group of researchers who analyzed dozens of studies, dating from January 2022 to August 2023, have found that having low levels of vitamin D may increase risk of severe COVID-19—and may raise risk for and possibly delay recovery from Long COVID. The research team also identified a possible interplay between vitamin D and Metformin, a medication that may help prevent Long COVID.” 

Researchers believe that Metformin positively affects the vitamin D receptor. Recently, University of Minnesota researchers discovered that it was possible to reduce the quantity of COVID-19 virus in the body using the drug which is usually prescribed for diabetes. As with Vitamin D, it also showed promise as a long Covid treatment. “Among the volunteers in this randomized trial, there was a more than 41% reduction of long COVID among those receiving metformin and a 58% reduction in hospitalization by 28 days,” explained David Boulware, MD, MPH. This is because Metformin reduced the amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus present – and generally the higher the amount of virus, the sicker the patient. Even better, the drug is very inexpensive. 

Sunshine, the body’s primary source of Vitamin D, costs even less. “Much of the world’s population, especially northern Europeans, Americans, and residents of the Middle East, are deficient in vitamin D,” Yale’s Lisa Sanders, MD points out. Besides use as a long Covid treatment, D also strengthens bones and muscles. As Sanders explains, “Most people can get all the vitamin D they need with five to 30 minutes of sunshine, most days a week. If you are concerned about skin aging, as I am, then put sunscreen on your face but leave your arms and legs exposed while you get your regular dose.”

For those who are unable to spend much time in the sun (and those living in wintery climates), taking a daily supplement containing 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 can serve a similar purpose. It’s important to be strict with the quantity as in the case of vitamin D (and iron supplements) more is not better. When most other vitamins are overused, they are flushed from the system. This vitamin is stored in the body until use, which increases the risk of toxicity (which doesn’t happen during sun exposure).

Identifying a deficiency is the first step toward treating it. Fortunately, keeping track of how much vitamin D is in the body is easy, thanks to Kyla Clinics. A simple, $99 blood test delivers valuable insights while offering guidance for improvement. Not only does the test reveal vitamin D deficiencies, it also provides information on hormonal imbalances, heart health, and blood sugar levels. After taking the test, the initial results are available in the app along with a detailed report explaining what these results mean for health and longevity.

Along with increasing the quantity of vitamin D, studies of vitamin C have also shown promising results. In one study of nearly 1400 people seeking, combining vitamin C supplementation with the amino acid l-Arginine reduced the severity of long Covid symptoms. The amino acid was taken in part because it’s effective at blood vessel dilation which speeds the vitamin through a person’s system. 

One often repeated fallacy seems to be that the COVID-19 vaccine and subsequent boosters are an effective deterrent against developing long Covid symptoms. A study of some 13 million people reported that, “Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 lowers the risk of long COVID after infection by only about 15%…” 

Fortunately, no one has to guess at the best solution. There are trained medical professionals available who are adept at providing guidance and encouragement. 

For anyone wondering if they have the condition, it’s important to note that there are no consistent symptoms of long Covid. Certainly ongoing fatigue months after infection is a warning sign, as would be lack of taste or smell. The key is finding solutions, not just treating symptoms. That’s why it’s important to take a holistic, whole body approach. 

During the pandemic, Kyla Clinics gained a sterling reputation for providing fast, accurate COVID-19 test results. Today they offer a wide variety of tests but their focus is on providing individualized insights. They do this by deploying proprietary AI analytics and advanced testing which can reveal the ways lifestyle choices exacerbate long Covid symptoms. Working with a medical professional, patients can access anti-aging treatments that not only reduce the severity of long Covid but also enhance well-being. Personalized recommendations from trusted healthcare professionals combines with the innovations of the Kyla app which makes monitoring progress easy. App users can track their daily nutrition, physical activity, personalized recommendations, and medication.

Whether battling long Covid or a variety of other conditions, Kyla believes in addressing the root cause not the symptoms. With time and effort, overcoming long Covid is possible but even more importantly, so is enjoying a healthy, active lifestyle after surviving the virus.


  1. Welsh, Jennifer. “COVID-19 Incubation Period: Average Number of Days After Exposure,” Very Well Health. February 24, 2024. 
  2. Hao, Ying-Jian et al. “The origins of COVID-19 pandemic: A brief overview.” Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. October 20, 2022.
  3. Gordon, Michael R. and Warren P. Strobel. “Lab Leak Most Likely Origin of Covid-19 Pandemic, Energy Department Now Says,” The Wall Street Journal. February 26, 2023.
  4. “Long Covid,” New York State Department of Health.
  5. Bankston, John. “A Taste Test To Predict COVID-19 Outcomes?” Doctorpedia.
  6. “Nearly Half of Covid Patients Haven’t Fully Recovered Months Later, Study Finds,” The New York Times, Oct. 12, 2022
  7. “Long COVID Basics,” CDC. June 11, 2024.
  8. Gallagher, James. “‘Long Covid’: Why Are Some People Not Recovering?” BBC. October 5, 2020.
  9. Ducharme, Jamie. “Long COVID Recovery Remains Rare,” Time. August 29, 2023.
  10. “Body Mass Index,” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
  11. “Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 5, 2024.
  12. Clem, Julia, and Brandon Barthel. “A Look at Plant-Based Diets.” Missouri Medicine. May-June 2021.
  13.  Guerra, Germano et al. “Editorial: Long COVID: nutrition and lifestyle changes.” Frontiers in Nutrition. February 21, 2024.
  14. Merino, Jordi, et al. “Diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19: a prospective cohort study,” Gut. November 1, 2021.
  15. Lang, Katherine. “Could some diets help manage long COVID?” Medical News Today. October 18, 2023.
  16. Cheng, Kenny. “Long COVID treatment: Does your vitamin D level play a role?” Yale Medicine. April 29, 2024.
  17. Srivastava, Sneha Baxi. “Vitamin D: Do We Need More Than Sunshine?.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. April 3, 2021.
  18.  “U of M study finds metformin reduces COVID-19 viral load, viral rebound,” University of Minnesota Medical School. May 2, 2024.
  19. Loewen, Dr. Jaycie Ph. D. “Natural Treatment for COVID Long-Haulers: Know Your Options,” Cognitive FX. March 17, 2023.
  20. “How some probiotic scientists are working to address COVID-19,” ISAPP Science. May 4, 2020.
  21.  Reardon, Sara. “Long COVID risk falls only slightly after vaccination, huge study shows,” Nature.  May 25, 2022.