Did you know it’s common for people to experience post-viral fatigue even when everything else seems like it’s back to normal?
Feeling exhausted while you’re sick is one thing. But feeling bone-crushingly fatigued weeks (or years) after you’ve kicked the virus is just not something you’re equipped to deal with.
So why is this happening and what can you do about it next time?
What is Post-Viral Fatigue?
Just as its name suggests, post-viral fatigue happens when we feel very tired for weeks or months after a viral infection. It’s frustrating to live with because we expect that we’ll “bounce back” quickly from a virus; but sometimes that isn’t the case.
You may also have symptoms like swollen lymph nodes, brain fog, post-exertion fatigue (like after a run or workout), headaches, a sore throat, and unexplained muscle & joint pain.
Each of the symptoms, along with an extreme lack of energy, are also the main symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That’s because CFS is linked to a chronic low-grade viral infection, the Epstein-Barr Virus.
Why Do Some People Suffer?
Viral infections can and do happen to all of us at some point.
We can encounter viruses spread from people around us, surfaces we’ve touch, or the air we breathe. Viruses are “shed” by the body itself when it follows its natural detox and clean up processes. And, of course, most of us are born with a variety of “stealth infections” that can be triggered by other viral infections.
My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome happened because I caught mono when I was 15, and this “turned on” my Epstein-Barr Virus infection. While I got over mono within about 3 weeks, I seriously suffered from post-viral fatigue for years afterwards.
The main reasons why some people experience post-viral fatigue are:
- They have an unusual reaction to the viruses that remain latent (or non-active) in the body, usually because of how their immune system sees the latent virus as foreign
- A stealth infection is triggered that turns on the immune system at a low-level
- Their body is susceptible to higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines (cells that attack foreign invaders), which leads to prolonged inflammation
- Nervous system and tissue inflammation
Diagnosis of Post-Viral Fatigue
There is no lab test to tell you if you have post-viral fatigue.
All lab tests can do is rule OUT other diseases, and often doctors dismiss us as being paranoid or problematic. My own journey through the medical system led many doctors to literally shake their head at me. Before telling me just to get more rest!
Our extreme post-viral fatigue can also hit us repeatedly.
While many women battle prolonged exhaustion with no relief, some women are able to put their fatigue into “remission”. They’re able to regain their energy and live a normal, active, healthy life again.
But, someday down the road, they experience that debilitating level of exhaustion again. This happens due to viral reactivation.
When your body has “fought off” a virus, it transforms into a latent state. In this state, there are no proteins on it that trigger your immune system to attack. Reactivation, on the other hand, switches the virus back into a “lytic” or active state, which will trigger an immune reaction.
Post-viral fatigue isn’t new. And it’s not something that is just associated with COVID; the idea of long-COVID is no different than the concept of mono triggering chronic fatigue via the EBV.
If you’re battling post-viral fatigue, you have two options: treatments or solutions.
Treatments mask the symptoms but don’t make them go away. In some cases, the treatment options will make your fatigue last even longer.
Not addressing post-viral fatigue can flip the switch in your body to chronic fatigue.
Options include ibuprofen for pain, caffeine, do less and rest more, vitamins and minerals, yoga, and acupuncture.
A lot of women will turn to adrenal adaptogens when they’re fatigued; these won’t work. Not if you’re battling virus-related fatigue. Adrenal adaptogens are only helpful to support a healthy diet that is focused on overcoming burnout.
The Solution to Post-Viral Fatigue
Whether or not you experience post-viral fatigue has a lot to do with your epigenetics.
Your choices influence your genes, and certain options will turn “on” or “off” genes that keep you healthy.
Epigenetics & Health Influencers
The main influencers are your diet, lifestyle (i.e. sleep, exercise), your stress load and how you handle it, exposure level to toxins, and how much inflammation you already have. And another often overlooked trigger is your mindset, the limiting beliefs that direct your thoughts and actions.
To reboot your energy faster, your solution needs to be focused on the root causes of your fatigue.
Natural Solutions to Reboot Your Energy
This means eating a diet that is low-carb, moderate protein and moderate to high fat, but that isn’t keto. It means avoiding pro-inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, sugar and vegetable oils. It means eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.
Manage your stress with self-care, the right types of exercise for your energy, better sleep habits, and proper eating hygiene. Reset your circadian rhythm. Put yourself and your health first.
And finally, work on reframing limiting beliefs about your health and abilities. Especially the limiting belief that everyone should get over a viral infection in just a few days! Not everyone is going to recover in 5-10 days, and our society needs to start honoring this.
The more you push yourself to get back to “normal” when you’re not feeling well, the higher your chances of getting post-viral fatigue.
If you’re struggling with post-viral fatigue or chronic fatigue, and you’re not sure what steps to take to regain your energy and your active, healthy life, the Energy & Hormonal Rebalance System can get you there in as little as 6 months.
If you’d like to get started with my best nutrition tips for higher energy, click here to get access to the Meal Timing & Nutrient Pairing Guide.