Time to clean up your habits.
BETH ANN MAYER FEB 15, 2023
Life has continued to move toward pre-pandemic norms, but the COVID risk remains. As a result, so does the risk of long COVID.
There’s no consensus on the exact definition of long COVID. The TL;DR version? “Basically, people have not returned to their baseline state at least four weeks following infection with COVID-19,” says Dr. Sritha Rajupet, MD, the director of the Stony Brook Medicine Post-COVID Clinic.
Getting sick isn’t fun to begin with. But not feeling like yourself for weeks or months? It’s safe to say most people wouldn’t sign up for that. And a new study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine is shining light on lifestyle habits that could cut the risk of developing long COVID in half.
These habits are maintaining a healthy BMI, never smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, diet, exercise and sleep. The findings are in line with standard medical advice for a healthy lifestyle, but experts share it bears repeating as we live with COVID.
“It is estimated that around 1 in 5 people who were infected by SARS-COV-2 may develop long COVID,” says Siwen Wang, MD, the study’s lead author and a research fellow with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Long COVID has a wide range of symptoms that can affect the heart, lungs, digestion, thinking and mood, which can impact daily functioning. With the ongoing waves of SARS-CoV-2 infection, long COVID has created a serious public health burden.”
Below, Dr. Wang and other experts discuss the study and how to best protect yourself.