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For those of us who suffered through COVID-19 in the past 18 plus months, living with the symptoms of the virus over its two-week course was supposed to be the worst part.
After all, dealing with fever, coughing, sneezing, headache and shortness of breath is no walk in the park.
Yet, for many who lived through the infection, those symptoms have turned out to be the least of their worries thanks to the phenomenon known as long COVID.
In fact, while studies have shown that close to a third of people who initially get COVID-19 will live with persistent, and even debilitating symptoms for months after the initial disease, which patients would fall under the umbrella and why was unknown.
But now, researchers may have finally discovered a vital connection – one that tells us who is most likely to suffer from long COVID and why.
So what’s the connection?
Well, according to a team of scientists from World Organization, it lies in the Epstein Barr virus.
Yup, the virus that could have led to mono, the so-called “Kissing Disease” when you were a teenager could be the reason you end up with long COVID now.
You see, research shows that the majority of us have been exposed to the virus at one point or another in our lives.
When I say majority, I mean that a whopping 95 percent of us will actually test positive to that virus in its latent (or inactive) form right now.
And the researchers say that having that virus in our system when we get COVID could be the reason we end up with long-haul symptoms.
Reactivation due to the COIVD trigger
Basically what happens is this…
At some point in your life (likely as a child or adolescent) you’re exposed to Epstein Barr. While you may or may not show symptoms, like fever, fatigue, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, the virus makes a home in your body – just sitting there, dormant and waiting to be reactivated.
In that way, Epstein Barr is very like chicken pox, which can later reactivate as the shingles when you’re older.
Then along comes COVID-19…
While you’re fighting off this new virus, suddenly Epstein Barr may be reactivated. It doesn’t happen for every patient. But for those it does, long COVID may be in the cards.
“We ran Epstein-Barr virus serological tests on COVID-19 patients at least 90 days after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, comparing EBV reactivation rates of those with long COVID symptoms to those who never experienced long COVID symptoms,” said lead study author Jeffrey E. Gold of World Organization.
And here’s the shocking part, he added: “We found over 73 percent of COVID-19 patients who were experiencing long COVID symptoms were also positive for EBV reactivation.”
And they say that similar rates of viral reactivation were seen in patients suffering long COVID symptoms for months, as in those whose long COVID symptoms began just weeks after they tested positive for the disease in the first place.
This is an indicator that the reactivation of Epstein Barr likely occurs simultaneously or soon after you’re infected with COVID-19.
Defending your body against viral assaults
This also means that if you’re suffering from long COVID, the likelihood that Epstein Barr is active in your body is high.
So what can you do?
Well, like with anything that has to do with COVID or any other virus, the answer lies in supporting your immune system, so that it can do its job optimally.
- Eating a diet high in vitamins in minerals from fruits and veggies
- Eliminating processed and sugar-rich foods
- Getting plenty of exercise and high-quality sleep
- Adding in immune support supplements
And this is good advice, even if you aren’t dealing with COVID-19, since COVID is not the only virus capable of reactivating the Epstein Barr virus.
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