Why EWOT For Long Covid?
- Long COVID affects millions of people and frequently lasts for months or years past the onset of the infection with 85% experiencing frustrating relapses of symptoms such as chronic fatigue, brain fog, exercise intolerance, post-exercise malaise, joint and muscle pains, headaches, dizziness, and sleeping disorders.
- Long COVID is debilitating with 45% of people with long COVID reporting reduced work schedules and another 22% reporting not working due to their health.
- Researchers at University of Dayton are studying EWOT to help people with long COIVD – combining commonly used therapies of oxygen and exercise
- People who completed a 6-week exercise program saw statistically significant improvements in exercise capacity, respiratory symptoms, fatigue and cognition including endurance improvements of 186%, fatigue scores improving 17%, and cognition scores improving from mild-cognitive-impairment to near-normal
- There is substantial research showing EWOT can help with fatigue, exercise tolerance, the inflammation that causes joint and muscle pain, and brain fog, among other symptoms experienced by people who are experiencing long COVID
- If you are experiencing long COVID, you should consider if EWOT might be able to help you jump-start your recovery
- Always seek advice of a physician before starting an exercise program and make sure you start slowly and listen to your body so not to overdo it. Should you feel unwell while exercising, you should stop and seek medical advice.
What is Long COVID & what are some of the symptoms?
Long COVID is defined as experiencing an array of symptoms weeks or longer after the acute infection has resolved. The causes are not yet known, but people report symptoms such as debilitating (chronic) fatigue, brain fog, exercise intolerance, joint and muscle pains, headaches, dizziness, and sleeping disorders.
Various studies have shown symptoms are ongoing, with studies showing over half of people infected with COVID experiencing symptoms 90-day after their initial symptoms onset, another US study showed 37% had symptoms three to six months after initial diagnosis, and nearly half of hospitalize COVID patients having symptoms beyond 7 months. Additionally, according to the British Heart Foundation, once people have long COVID, 35% report symptoms persisting more than a year later.
The most frequent symptoms reported after month 6 were fatigue (78%), post-exertional malaise (feeling terrible after physical exertion) (72%), and cognitive dysfunction (55%) with over 85% experiencing relapses, and 45% reporting reduced work schedules and another 22% reporting not working due to their health.
While a lot is not known, it is clear than millions of people are suffering with long COVID symptoms that can persist for at least months to years.
How EWOT can help people dealing with Long COVID
Exercise with Oxygen Therapy (EWOT) is the practice of exercising while breathing high concentrations of pure oxygen. It helps drive oxygen deeper into the tissues by super-oxygenating the blood and creating a profoundly anti-inflammatory and anti-aging affect that is long lasting.
There is a quite a bit of research showing the many benefits of EWOT to decrease inflammation, improve immune system performance, fight cancer, reduce aging, increase energy, improve cognition, and enhance athletic performance. And there are good reasons to believe it can help with chronic infections and persistent symptom clusters similar to COVID - such as Lyme and Bartonella. However, there has not been much shared regarding how EWOT can help people suffering with long COVID symptoms.
Given that the most persist symptoms of fatigue and post-exertional malaise (feeling terrible after physical exertion), and also given that 43% of recovered COVID patients had oxygen desaturation during a 6-minute walking test and 32% experience shortness of breath, there are many reasons to get excited about using EWOT to help overcome these symptoms and return to a higher quality of life.
Researchers at University of Dayton are studying EWOT to help people with long COIVD because there are many recommendations for both supplement oxygen and exercise (and here and here) in helping people recover from the damage caused by long COVID. In fact, in one study, people who completed a 6-week exercise program that had them exercise two-times per week saw statistically significant improvements in exercise capacity, respiratory symptoms, fatigue and cognition. The average participant improving their endurance by 186%, fatigue scores improving 17%, and cognition scores improving from a range considered indicative of mild-cognitive-impairment to near-normal using the MoCA cognition test which is also used for Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, and brain tumors among others.
Yet, EWOT is synergistic in that the benefits of oxygen and exercise combined are more powerful than the sum of each treatment alone. The exercise increases the pulse and breathing rates, shuttling more blood through the body and at the same time it relaxes the blood vessels to allow increased blood and oxygen flow in order to increase energy production for the cells. The high-concentration of oxygen super-saturates the blood and improves exercise tolerance, allowing people to increase their ability to extract benefits from the exercise without out post-exercise malaise that is common in people experiencing long COIVD.
Because EWOT not only saturates your red blood cells with oxygen, but your plasma as well (plasma is the clear liquid the red blood cells travel in, and is capable of reaching parts of your body that may be oxygen-starved due to inflammation caused by COVID and aging) it is able to reoxygenate tissues that were deprived and jump-start the mitochondria to produce more energy. The improved mitochondria function provides the energy to help the body repair and restore normal immune function while also helping relieve chronic fatigue symptoms. At the same time, this process creates a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that opens up blood vessels to continue to oxygenate those tissues long after you are done with the EWOT session. This anti-inflammatory affect also helps quiet overactive cytokines that create muscle and joint pain, brain fog, and can contribute to headaches. In fact, in one study of people with a pulmonary disease, 88% benefited from EWOT and significantly improved patients’ endurance time, oxygen saturation, and reduced shortness of breath, relative to baseline.
Before returning to exercise after a COVID infection, you may want to discuss with your medical provider. We recommend that people using EWOT to help in their long COVID recovery allow the initial acute infection symptoms to subside and to give their bodies a few weeks to rest and begin the recovery process. Once you have spoken to a doctor and are ready to begin exercising, we recommend you start very slowly, listen to your body and increase intensity slowly. Most folks we have worked with have been able to improve their exerciser endurance to at least 70%-80% of their pre-COVID levels within 8 – 12 weeks of starting EWOT, but of course everyone’s body is unique and you should listen to yours.