Eat certain soft foods if ‘out of breath’ from long Covid, says NHS

What is long Covid and what are the known symptoms?

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Many people are learning to live with potentially debilitating long Covid symptoms. And with some finding it especially difficult to return to their daily routines, recuperation is vital. It has been suggested that your diet could play a part in getting better.

According to the NHS, eating the “right foods” after having COVID-19 can help “you get better and stronger quicker”.

This can “improve your immune system, which protects you from illness and helps your body to get better,” it says, and “increase your energy levels which allows you to do your usual activities”.

Certain foods will also help rebuild your muscles and allow you to gain weight if you lost any during your illness.

The health service lists issues from Covid that could affect your appetite, including:

  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Being out of breath
  • A dry mouth
  • Finding it hard to swallow
  • Feeling like you want to be sick
  • Having an upset stomach
  • Being constipated (finding it difficult to poo).

Breathlessness or a shortness of breath is one well-known sign of Covid, and long Covid, among other respiratory symptoms.

Having long Covid means you are experiencing the effects longer than 12 weeks after the initial infection.

It is thought around two million people in the UK are currently living with long Covid.

If you are suffering with breathing issues the NHS has suggested ways to make eating easier, therefore aiding recovery.

It recommends eating soft foods like mashed potatoes and soup, which are “easier” to consume if you are out of breath.

Patients are also advised to try to eat four or five smaller meals during the day.

The NHS adds: “Try not to have a drink with your meals and instead drink between your meals.”

If you are still struggling to eat, the NHS says: “Ask your GP for advice and they may refer you to a dietitian for further advice and support if needed.

“A dietitian can advise you on the right food to eat.”

Or it says you could speak to your pharmacist.

Some people might lose weight as a result of Covid.

The NHS says: “If you have lost some weight but your weight is now stable, you do not need to do anything unless you are underweight, or you are a lot lighter than before you had Covid.

“However, it is still important to try to choose healthy foods to benefit your recovery.

“If you are underweight or substantially lighter than your pre-Covid weight, increase the number of calories you have each day.

“Foods such as brown bread, pasta dishes, potatoes and rice are a few examples of food that can be eaten or increased in order to gain weight in a safe way.”

Other long Covid symptoms include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Loss of smell
  • Muscle aches
  • Problems with your memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles
  • Joint pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus, earaches
  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat
  • Rashes.

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