Living with long Covid: ‘The brain fog and memory loss has induced a lot of anxiety’

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Thousands of people worldwide are suffering from the lingering effects of Covid-19 – from severe fatigue and struggling to breathe to coping with hair or memory loss. Health24 spoke to a number of  long haulers. This is Kristin's story.

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Kristin, 29

Contracted Covid-19 in January 2021.

I've been struggling with brain fog and bad short-term memory loss. This has induced a lot of anxiety because there are days where I can’t focus or think clearly. It's very frustrating.

I also suffered from fatigue for a while. This has improved, but there are still times when I have to take a nap in the afternoon.

My life before Covid was fine. I was out and about and would often go and hike in Newlands forest after work. My anxiety and depression levels were fine. But after recovering from Covid I ended up just staying at home.

I was tired all the time. I was nervous to go out because of how I would feel.

I went to my doctor a few times; she monitored my symptoms and adjusted my anxiety and sleeping medications.

I also went to a health clinic for hyperbaric oxygen therapy once a week, and that helped with the debilitating brain fog and fatigue. You’re put in a high-pressure environment and need to wear an oxygen mask. The idea is that you actually get more oxygen into your blood under pressure which helps you to fight pathogens.

When I started doing that, they[the nutritionists] put me on a special diet. I think that was when my brain fog and fatigue finally started lifting. I did 20 sessions in two months in the hyperbaric chamber.

I would say that my brain fog and fatigue – and even my anxiety – have been feeling a bit more under control over the past month. But I did see a psychologist just to process everything and try to understand the physical side versus the trauma of having to isolate because of Covid.

The process of isolation, and people not understanding what you're going through, triggers feelings of anxiety as much as the physical disease itself. I feel like there isn't enough awareness around this aspect.

*Many people suffer from the long-term effects of Covid-19, even many months later. If you are one of those people, and wish to share your experience, let us know, and your story can be told in our Living with long Covid series. You are not alone. E-mail your stories to zakiyah.ebrahim@24.com

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | Long Covid: More than 200 symptoms identified, many with a negative effect on work life

READ | If you’re living with long Covid, a Stellenbosch University researcher needs your help

READ | Like a 'blanket of fatigue': Inside Groote Schuur’s long Covid clinic

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