A leading expert explains why you should always seek treatment, plus how to spot some of the con artists and scams
While millions of Americans have had COVID and fully recovered, an estimated 15% of COVID survivors — about 17 million Americans — suffer from life-altering long COVID symptoms that persist long after the initial viral attack. Sadly, many have given up hope of ever finding relief.
“Not only can long COVID symptoms be severe. Long COVID can also create the perfect storm in the body, enabling other damaging conditions to take hold,” cautions Robert Groysman, MD, a sought-after long COVID expert. “That’s why it’s essential to get treatment. Right now, there is no cure. But there are ways to manage your symptoms, to help you reclaim your life.”
What are some typical long COVID symptoms?
Long COVID symptoms can disrupt everyday life, and they often overlap other conditions, making a diagnosis challenging. Those symptoms may include chronic fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste, loss of smell, parosmia (extreme sensitivity to smells), tinnitus, anxiety, depression and PTSD.
“It’s no wonder some sufferers become vulnerable to unscrupulous ‘experts’ promising help, and scam products sold online,” observes Groysman, who is both a Diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesia and the American Board of Pain Medicine
People around the world seek Groysman’s advice
During the pandemic, Groysman realized an unprecedented number of previously healthy patients were seeking care for conditions not directly caused by trauma, surgical, genetic or degenerative disorders. “The one thing they had in common was these symptoms began after a suspected COVID infection and persisted for months, even years afterward,” he recalls. “My patients were clearly suffering.”
After treating a patient with a Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) for a non-COVID related condition, Groysman discovered his first solution. SGB blocks the nerves used by the sympathetic nervous system to communicate between the head and the rest of the body.
“This patient also reported smell and taste dysfunction, believed to be caused by long COVID. To my surprise, and especially the patient’s, after recovering from SGB his smell and taste had returned to normal!”
Groysman has since developed a comprehensive and highly successful approach to treating long COVID symptoms, prompting people from around the world to seek his advice. A strong advocate for long COVID patient education, he runs a private long COVID Facebook group, where more than 5,000 people ask questions and share which treatments work for them.
Be skeptical of people and products that promise a cure
“Anytime something new comes out, the con artists pop up with scams that have no basis in science or medicine. Long COVID is no different. I’ve seen magic infrared wands. I’ve seen patches that in reality are nothing more than stickers. Long COVID patients are desperate. Please don’t waste time and money on things that simply won’t work except for the placebo effect.”
Likewise, he advises asking a lot of questions before working with a medical professional or going to a medspa to manage your symptoms. “Not every healthcare professional has the same kinds of training. And treating long COVID symptoms is rarely a once-and-done,” says Groysman, who now operates a dedicated long COVID clinic.
Before agreeing to an SGB, Groysman advises asking a lot of questions. These include:
- How many SGBs have you done in the last month?
- What kind of success have you had doing SGB’s for parosmia/anosmia/brain fog/anxiety?
- Do you do the SGB with fluoroscopy or ultrasound? “Ultrasound is technically safer as arteries, veins, nerves are seen and can be avoided.”
- Do you do one level or two per side (C4 and C6)? “Dual level has been shown to increase recoveries.”
- Can I have it done awake, or do you sedate patients for this procedure?
- Have you had any complications from the SGB in the last year?
Treatments some physicians might not use, and conditions they may not address
Groysman says comprehensive, multidisciplinary care is vital because even SGB doesn’t always help completely. “Some people don’t respond to it at all. And sometimes there are lingering, straggler symptoms. That’s why it’s important to address symptoms from multiple angles.”
After a full evaluation, the different protocols included in his comprehensive approach may include IV hydration, low-dose naltrexone, nicotine patches, physical therapy and specific exercises.
Groysman also recommends treating underlying conditions that are often overlooked. “Insomnia is not always addressed but it’s important because the body repairs itself at night. If you’re not repairing anything, it can prolong every condition you may have.”
He adds that few physicians treating long COVID symptoms address gut health. “COVID can disrupt the gut environment, which can lead to brain fog and fatigue. Left untreated, gut microbiome dysfunction can affect nutrient absorption. Long COVID is notorious for low vitamin D levels, for example. A dysfunctional gut microbiome may even lead to damage in the kidneys, lungs, heart and brain.”
Become your own long-COVID advocate
If you think you may have long COVID, Groysman has written a free ebook with helpful tools and information to help you start educating yourself. He also offers a free list of 10 questions to ask a practitioner prior to getting an SGB for long COVID symptoms. Links to both can be found on his website, www.ReliefBeginsHere.com.