Shortness of breath is one of the common symptoms in Long COVID patients, and it is not unique to patients in the acute phase. In fact, it is much more common in Long COVID patients, with two-thirds of Long COVID patients developing the symptom only weeks or even months after their initial illness.
Research on brain fog post covid patients is extremely limited, but the two factors that most likely explain the shortness of breath in these patients are autonomic nervous system dysfunction and disruption of neurovascular coupling in the brain. These are also the two main factors behind the cases of chronic symptoms such as mild traumatic brain injury, hypoxia and infectious diseases that we treat at LongCovidCareCenter.
Autonomic nervous system dysfunction
Like our mild traumatic brain injury patients, many Long COVID patients often show signs of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is divided into the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). SNS is often described as driving the fight or flight response, while PNS leads to a calmer rest and digest response.
SNS prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, dilating pupil size and stimulating breathing patterns. In contrast, the PNS helps the body slow down, which includes functions such as stimulating digestion, lowering heart rate, and lowering breathing rate.
The autonomic nervous system interacts with nearly every organ in the body. In Long COVID patients, ANS dysfunction often involves a hyperactive SNS, while the PNS becomes more subdued. This condition, called autonomic dysfunction, can manifest itself through a number of symptoms, such as blood pressure changes, heart palpitations, exercise intolerance, incontinence, temperature sensitivity, and shortness of breath.
Slow, deep breathing stimulates activity in the vagus nerve, which is part of the PNS. The vagus nerve controls the activity of many internal organs, and when stimulated, it can lower heart rate, improve blood pressure and regulate breathing patterns.
Neurovascular coupling dysfunction
While the exact mechanism isn’t fully understood, the researchers believe that the shortness of breath in Long COVID patients may also be the result of disruptions in oxygen supply to the brain, causing certain areas to lose their ability to do the tasks expected of them. This is called neurovascular coupling dysfunction.
We have seen this devastation firsthand with Long COVID patients. But before treatment begins, each patient undergoes a brain scan to detect which areas are affected. In all of our Long COVID patients, brain imaging revealed the same pattern of disrupted neurovascular coupling that we detected in concussion patients. You can read more about the How To Get Rid Of Long Covid-19 Brain Fog? method.
Research shows that the feeling of shortness of breath is controlled in multiple areas of the brain, including the amygdala, cingulate cortex, hypothalamus, and anterior insula, to name a few. If these areas happen to be affected by dysfunction of the neurovascular coupling, shortness of breath may be triggered, but not necessarily with low oxygen levels in the blood.
Anxiety, stress, and other behavioral problems
A final factor that can lead to shortness of breath is an indirect consequence of living with Long COVID. The prospect of unemployment or financial hardship due to a case of COVID-19 can have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. In fact, one study found that a third of COVID-19 survivors were ultimately diagnosed with a mental illness within six months of becoming infected.
When a patient is anxious, the heart rate increases, which in turn stimulates the respiratory rate and causes shortness of breath. Some patients also experience increased tightness in different muscles, including the neck and chest, which can further aggravate breathlessness.
After just one week of treatment, 95% of our patients experience a statistically validated improvement in brain function. So far, LongCovidCareCenter has seen similar results in Long COVID patients who passed our current screening criteria. To discuss your specific symptoms of COVID-19 and to find out if you would receive post covid brain fog treatment at our clinic, consult the LongCovidCareCenter online.