Overcoming chronic post-viral illness

There is a palpable collective sigh of relief in the air as the pandemic wanes and a sense of normal life and freedom begins to take hold again. There is much to be celebrated and appreciated in coming out the other side but for some, they still carry the legacy of having had Covid with a reduced sense of health or symptoms that still impact their quality of life. This isn’t confined to Covid alone, but following tonsilitis, glandular fever, lung infections etc, post viral fatigue, depression, lethargy and compromised respiratory or digestive symptoms can commonly linger long after the acute phase of illness has passed. 

This can make it hard to resume working life as the more obvious symptoms that warrant sick leave and elicit compassion from friends and family have long passed but energy, appetite, lung capacity, and positive mood are slower to catch up. Understanding this dynamic from a Chinese Medicine perspective can be helpful.

In simplified terms, Chinese Medicine regards contagious illness as being located at different ‘layers’ of the body, the External Layer, the Internal Layer and the Half External/Half Internal Layer. When we contract a virus, it penetrates through the External Layer of the body, and our symptom picture is correspondingly External in nature: body aches, shivering, chills and raised temperature, sore throat, headaches, runny nose – we are all too familiar with the experience. Our body knows how to deal with pathogens on the Exterior Layer and will ordinarily induce a light sweat to effectively shed the pathogens back out through the Exterior Layer. 

If this process isn’t successful and pathogenic invasion begins to penetrate to the Interior Layer, it starts to disrupt our finely balanced homeostasis and depending on the person’s own particular constitution, will typically impact digestive and respiratory health (since both have a link with the external environment via the mouth and nose). Again, our body knows how to self-heal disease on the Internal Layer and will typically discharge the internal heat and damp of infection that arises as result of the body’s battle with illness via bowel movements, vomiting or urine. 

However, when disease becomes lodged at the Half Exterior/Half Interior Layer, it is much harder for the body to resolve this without additional support. Since the pathogens are no longer just on the Exterior, sweating won’t be sufficient to expel them. Since they are not entirely on the Interior, the usual means of discharging pathogenic debris will equally not be effective. So we can end up in a twilight zone, oscillating between cycles of undulating health, with reoccurring symptoms that don’t fully resolve. 

Pathogens and disease trapped at the Half and Half Layer typically linger, as we normalise phases of feeling better and more buoyant as our body gets the upper hand with phases of sinking back into breathlessness, low appetite, temperature dysregulation, chronic sore throat or low grade cough, headaches, poor energy, insomnia, and low mood or even depression as the trapped pathogens at the Half Exterior/Half Interior layer get the upper hand and impact a whole spectrum of organ systems. It’s a dance that can go on for months, even years. 

Fortunately, with a long history of treating epidemics and a wide variety of viruses and contagious illness, Chinese Medicine offers a way to support our body in resolving illness that has chronically lodged in this Half Exterior/Half Interior layer. 

If your quality of life is being impacted by a post viral illness and you need help in getting back to feeling like yourself again, you can make an appointment with Freya by calling her on 086 127 3148 or emailing hello@freyasherlock.com.

Freya Sherlock

Freya Sherlock is a professional Chinese Medicine practitioner offering Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Chinese Herbal Medicine prescriptions and Tui Na Remedial Bodywork at her private clinic in Dunmanway. She offers a general practice with additional specialisms in women’s health and digestive disorders. Freya is also Ireland’s premier WildFit Coach.

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