Discover Our Long COVID Centre Brisbane
Online and Face to Face
Our clinic has been helping people recover from Long COVID/CFS for 12 months. 92% of our patients rated us 9 or 10 out of 10 likelihood they would refer family or friends to our clinic. We have a number of strategies we have developed to help patients and find that most patients make significant improvements in their health. We can assist patients suffering from long COVID to better pace themselves and improve their recovery by helping them to take sick leave and work with their employer on a suitable return to work plan. In our clinic, we have several clinicians who have had Long COVID or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so we know what you are going through.
We want to help people to recover and improve their quality of life sooner. We also believe in helping patients understand their symptoms and the treatments we propose. All our patients are provided with information from reputable sources and our own thorough assessment. We use research-validated patient assessments such as the Symptom Burden Questionnaire which was co-developed with Long COVID patients by The University of Birmingham. We also incorporate cutting edge research from centres of research excellence around the world including the world leading Griffith University National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED) at the Menzies Health Institute Queensland.
We can provide care in person in Brisbane or virtually around Australia via video Telehealth. Rather than repeating tests you have had done before, we ask you to obtain these from your other clinicians and send them to us before your first appointment. If you are unable to be seen face-to-face at all, Medicare rebates generally do not apply due to Medicare rules.
Bodily systems affected by Long COVID
Image credit: Royal College of Nursing, Long-COVID: the range of symptoms and how to help your patients
What is Long COVID?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) ‘post COVID-19 condition, also known as “long COVID,” refers collectively to the constellation of long-term symptoms that some people experience after they have had COVID-19’ [Ref: WHO].
The CDC points out that this condition goes by a variety of names. ‘People call post-COVID conditions by many names, including: long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, post-acute sequelae of SARS CoV-2 infection (PASC), long-term effects of COVID, and chronic COVID.’ For the purpose of this clinic we will call this condition Long COVID. [Ref: CDC]
Current estimates of the prevalence of Long COVID range from as many as 1 in 5 to a more conservative 1 in 20 people at 3 months to 1 in 40 people at six months.
Long COVID Symptoms List
What are the symptoms of long COVID?
General long COVID symptoms
Symptoms of long COVID can take many forms – however, the most commonly reported symptoms relate to ongoing fatigue and fever, as we detail below:
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)
Respiratory and heart symptoms
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Long COVID cough
- Chest pain
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
- Pins-and-needles feelings
- Change in smell or taste
- Depression or anxiety
- Stomach pain
- Joint or muscle pain
- Changes in menstrual cycles
What have we learned in our clinic?
If you have Long COVID or chronic fatigue you may find that you experience some improvements only to suffer subsequent setbacks. This is a common pattern – sometimes these flares seem to prolong the illness and hamper recovery. We have found that by supporting patients to recover, their setbacks seem smaller, shorter lived and do not seem to hamper their ultimate recovery. This is exciting for both us and our patients.
Many Long COVID or Chronic Fatigue patients experience a significant drop in their health and quality of life. They then seem to experience slight improvements and then slight setbacks, all the time suffering a worse quality of life. Many of them adjust their lives to accommodate for their poor health.
In our experience about 7-8/10 patients experience a significant improvement in the first few weeks of treatment. Then they gradually increase to about 90% of their normal/pre-illness state, with most long COVID symptoms subsiding in that time period. The last 10% of recovery can take longer and depends on how many other demands the patient has to deal with (work, family, education etc). In our view, these patients have a significant component of mitochondrial dysfunction compounded by persistent inflammation elsewhere in the body. We believe that mast cell activation and other immunologic processes such as microglia facilitated inflammation also play a role.
Some patients, about 1-2 out of 10, have a slower recovery profile and in our view these patients are probably suffering from more significant neurological inflammation which tends to respond more slowly. Fortunately, many of these patients are still experiencing improvements in their health. We continue to work with these patients and offer them new treatments as the scientific or clinical evidence of benefits emerges.
We are here to support your Long COVID recovery
The iHealth Centre Post-Acute and Long COVID Clinic will see patients aged over 16 years who are recovering from confirmed SARS-CoV-2 viral infection (positive RAT or PCR) but are still experiencing significant symptoms for at least four weeks after the date of their positive diagnosis. Children under 16 may be seen under certain circumstances after speaking to our nurse – however, we generally like these patients to also be seen by a paediatrician to ensure no other serious illnesses are missed.
The iHealth Care Long COVID clinic will assess you to see if you have any identifiable organ damage resulting from the acute SARS-CoV-2 viral infection. In our experience this is rare but requires management in collaboration with other medical specialists.
To assess you in the most comprehensive manner we use an assessment tool co-designed by patients and validated by researchers. We blend standard evidence-based treatment protocols with some low-risk interventions based around nutritional supplements, exercise and supportive counselling. All of our treatments are based on scientific research and clinical experience.
Our Doctors and Nurses are supported by a multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals. We believe in pacing and do not prescribe graded exercise therapy, as this contradicts current evidence-based guidelines. However, we do believe in supporting you to exercise once you reach about 90% of your normal state.
We believe Long COVID/CFS can be very stressful and harmful to your mental health, especially if you have prior mental health conditions. Pre-existing and concurrent psychological, physiological or immunological stress like repeated COVID or other infections can make Long COVID/CFS worse. This further supports the necessity for a multidisciplinary approach that is holistic and uniquely tailored to every individual patient to reduce the time spent unwell and to hasten the recovery process. We will work with you to find a team to support you. Thankfully, in our experience with our patients, most repeated infections and life stressors cause a setback in their recovery but patients generally do not decline to their pre-treatment levels.
In certain circumstances, we can arrange our nurses to check in with you weekly, and counsellors and psychologists to support your mental health. Your GP specialist in Long COVID care sees you fortnightly to monthly depending on your circumstances.
Our Long COVID approach
In our clinic we follow a standardised process to assess you in the most accurate and efficient way.
- We assess your symptoms to work out what pattern of Long COVID applies to you. This helps us to determine how you might respond to our various treatment strategies.
- We work out if you need any further investigations and arrange them as necessary.
- We explain our long COVID diagnosis and management plan – with an iHealth Plan tailored to you. We also provide you with other useful pieces of information.
- We pair you with a team of experts in mental health and stress management, healthy diet, and exercise when suitable.
- We support you during any necessary sick leave and monitor your response and recovery.
Lifelong support for you and your family
If you have Long COVID or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome this can be a lifelong vulnerability depending on triggers such as certain viruses, severe illness or significant psychological stress or burnout. We work with you to identify strategies to make you healthier in the long term and to help you avoid future episodes of poor health.
Many of our strategies are linked to emerging science and treatments in the longevity field and may help your health and quality of life in the long term.
We also believe that Long COVID and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome go along with certain genetic vulnerabilities (and strengths). With that in mind, we are happy to support any of your family (or friends) with similar health issues.
Our Long COVID Clinic Brisbane – How It Works
With a 92% Net Promoter score, our goal is to prevent further disruption from long COVID and minimise any risk of severe illness.
In order to streamline the process and enable us to help as many people as we can we require long COVID patients to follow a set procedure and complete several forms before their first visit. You can break this job into several pieces and older patients may need to ask their family to help them to complete the forms.
Before you first consult
1 > Complete your symptom burden questionnaire
This screening tool helps us understand how you have been affected since your COVID illness. It takes 15 – 20 minutes to complete. Please click on the following link to complete the questionnaire: https://bit.ly/iHealthLongCovid.
2 > Follow the email instructions to book an appointment with a nurse and doctor
Once we have received your completed symptom questionnaire, you will receive an email with a link to book an appointment.
3 > Complete your acute COVID illness history
In the email you will see a link to complete another short questionnaire asking you to describe your Acute COVID illness. This five minute questionnaire provides us with important information, so please fill this in prior to your first appointment. If you don’t receive the email click the link here: https://ihealthindo.snapforms.com.au/form/acute-covid-illness-history
4 > Complete form asking your GP for existing results
In the email you will receive instructions on how to provide us with investigation or other test results relevant to your Long COVID – such as all specialist consults, recent blood tests, ECG, heart echo, MRI scans or Holter monitor. If you don’t receive the email click the link here – https://ihealthindo.snapforms.com.au/form/long-covid-request-for-records
Please let your GP or practice know we need this information before your first appointment. Alternatively, if you have copies, please email these to the Long COVID Clinic nurse at LongCovid_Indo@ihealthcentre.com.au
Your clinical care
1. Nurse consult #1 – observations and assessment
At your first appointment you will receive preliminary medical screening from one of our specially trained Nurses who will review the history of your illness and confirm your symptoms from the intake assessment survey. This may be via Telehealth or in person. In person assessments will include standard biometric measurements (Blood pressure, height, weight, and BMI) as well as an ECG.
2. GP consult #1 – assessment and preliminary management plan
Your next appointment will be a GP referral with one of our experienced Long-Covid GP Specialists who will determine which pattern of Long COVID best describes your symptoms. Depending on this assessment you may be referred for more tests to gather further information, including complex respiratory function tests, an echocardiogram, sub max VO2, blood tests (for a complete blood analysis) or brain or heart MRI.
You will receive a Long COVID patient folder with our initial assessment, the results of your scored Symptom Burden Questionnaire, our recommended treatment plan and relevant patient support materials.
3. Ongoing fortnightly nurse reviews
If required, one of our experienced and specially trained Nurses will have a face-to-face or video consultation with you to check on your progress, identify your concerns and support you on your journey of recovery. If any urgent issues arise they will liaise with your treating Specialist GP.
4. Ongoing fortnightly or monthly specialist GP reviews
Once you have completed any referred tests, the GP Specialist will review the results and make any necessary adjustments to your individualised treatment plan. Different patients respond differently to different nutritional supplements and medicines and these treatments often need to be tailored to improve your recovery. Your GP Specialist will let you know how frequently you need to be reviewed.
5. Multidisciplinary support team
Once your GP Specialist has determined what extra support you need we will link you in with our team of Long COVID allied health experts including a counsellor to help you manage any issues relating to quality of life and depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder etc; a dietitian to help you address any dietary matters; and, when able an exercise physiologist to help you get back to normal function safely and consistent with safe pacing.
The Long COVID Clinic has been set up to support you to recover your normal function after what has often been a frustrating and upsetting experience. All of our health professionals are committed to supporting you and have done extra training to do so.
Nurse consult fees:
Up to 30 minutes $50 per consult
GP Specialist per consult:
Initial consult & ECG $300 Medicare rebate: $79.70 – $117.40
Review appointments up to 30 minutes $220 per consult. Medicare rebate: $79.70
Costs for investigations vary according to provider – cost estimates will be provided at your appointment.
We provide detailed information on how to obtain the nutritional supplements we recommend. These are typically inexpensive. For convenience we provide these supplements for purchase from the clinic.
Your individualised treatment plan
Your individualised treatment plan may involve:
- A medication and/or vitamin plan,
- Referral to other medical specialists if required, and
- Referral to other relevant allied health professionals.
Your treatment plan will include a treatment program where a treatment is added each week so that we can assess what treatment works best for you. We provide you with your own Long COVID education folder which we can email to our online only patients.
All patients are asked to keep track of their response via a patient diary weekly so that we can track your progress. Face to face visits involve a nurse assessment prior to you seeing the Long COVID specialist GP. Online-only patients will need to have an ECG and some observations done at their own GP prior to our visit.
What Is Long COVID?: Explore iHealth’s Long COVID FAQs
As we move away from questions like, ‘Is long COVID real?’ or ‘Does long COVID test positive?’, and accept that it is a genuine post-infection condition that affects millions globally, iHealth is 100% invested in providing the best care and recovery to people with long COVID. We’re deeply in touch with long COVID research, and are dedicated to pioneering the latest techniques in disease control and treatment.
As organisations like the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. continue to run clinical trials in relation to long COVID and further our understanding of the condition, iHealth will also evolve to constantly improve the way we treat long COVID.
We understand that every person’s experience of long COVID is different, and it’s important to approach each case with a customised treatment strategy to manage the illness appropriately. If you require multiple treatments or a singular approach, iHealth will treat patients with the solutions they need to make a sustainable recovery. Plus, if through your monitoring we find other underlying health conditions that are related to your long COVID symptoms, like chronic heart failure, we will be in a strong position to pivot to an alternative diagnosis.
We’re more than just a general practice. iHealth is dedicated to providing all our long COVID patients with the latest information, resources and services to ensure that you receive the most comprehensive treatment in Queensland. If you need an informed health professional that can guide you through the long COVID process, get in touch today.
Discover more about long COVID below:
How do you know if you have long COVID?
The signs of long COVID in an individual can vary across a broad range of symptoms. We go into greater detail above – however, if you’re asking yourself, ‘How do I know if I have long COVID?’, the most common health effects of long COVID are:
- Extreme fatigue (tiredness) during all daily activities
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness
- Problems with memory and concentration (‘brain fog’)
- Changes in taste or smell
- Joint and muscle pain
- Problems sleeping
- Changes in mood (increased worry, anxiety or depression)
- Pins and needles
- Low-grade fever
- Skin rashes, hair loss
- Nausea, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
How Long Does Long COVID last?
Recovery times from long COVID syndrome will differ for each person and depend on the severity of their initial infection, their underlying health conditions, and the type of ongoing health problems they have. Some people may recover within 3 to 4 months, while others may experience symptoms for a longer period of time. It is thought that most people will recover within 12 to 18 months. Treatment for long COVID may accelerate the recovery process; however, this is not a certainty.
If you have long COVID symptoms that won’t go away, specialist long COVID clinics like iHealth’s treatment centre can help you understand the background to your health situation and identify if there’s any associated illness involved in your symptoms.
Is Long COVID permanent?
Indefinite long COVID symptoms are rare, with the condition usually lasting anywhere from 12 to 18 months. However, persistent symptoms beyond this timeframe are known to occur. iHealth’s specialist long COVID clinic will support you through any duration of severe symptoms, working to tailor an effective, and long-lasting treatment plan that evolves with your health needs.
Is long COVID contagious?
No, long COVID is not contagious. Long COVID is a condition where people have symptoms that last for more than 12 weeks after recovering from COVID-19. Long COVID is not an infection, but a long-term effect of the virus on the body. Some theories consider that a persistent COVID viral infection or a reactivation of another virus may be involved, but this is still being investigated.
People with COVID-19 are most contagious in the first five days after developing symptoms, and usually stop being contagious after 10 days, unless they have severe illness or are immunocompromised. Even if they test positive for the virus after that, it does not mean they have an active virus that can infect others.
Is there a test for long COVID?
Unlike COVID-19 tests such as PCR tests and rapid antigen tests (rat kits), there is no specific long COVID test, which is the term used to describe the condition where people have symptoms that last for more than 12 weeks after recovering from COVID-19. Diagnosing long COVID means doctors have to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.
What causes long COVID?
The exact causes of long COVID are not yet fully understood, but there are several possible explanations that researchers are investigating. Some of the leading theories are:
- Immune dysregulation: This means that the immune system is unable to control or sustain a normal response to the virus, and continues to produce inflammation and other chemicals that can damage healthy cells and tissues.
- Viral persistence: This means that some remnants of the virus may remain in the body after the initial infection, and cause ongoing symptoms or trigger new infections.
- Autoimmunity: This means that the virus may cause the immune system to mistakenly attack the body’s own cells and organs, leading to various symptoms and complications.
- Neurological effects: This means that the virus may affect the brain and nervous system, causing symptoms such as brain fog, disorders of the autonomic nervous system (dysautonomia), mood changes, headaches, and sleep problems.
Our clinic also assesses and treats patients for related conditions such as metabolic disturbances and mast cell activation syndrome. Indeed, we have had great success treating people in this manner.
These theories are not mutually exclusive, and it is possible that long COVID may have different causes for different people or involve a combination of factors. More research and clinical trials are needed to fully understand the mechanisms and risk factors of long COVID, and to develop potential treatments and prevention strategies.
Is long COVID fatigue something I should be concerned about?
Long COVID fatigue is a condition where people experience persistent tiredness and lack of energy for weeks or months after recovering from COVID-19 infection. It is one of the most common symptoms of long COVID, affecting up to 85% of long COVID patients. Long COVID fatigue can have a negative impact on your daily life, work and mental health.
Long COVID fatigue is different from normal tiredness. It is not relieved by rest or sleep, and can be triggered or worsened by physical or mental activity. It can also be accompanied by other symptoms of long COVID, such as brain fog, shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle spasms and loss of taste or smell. Specific studies around long COVID fatigue treatment are ongoing.
The exact causes of long COVID fatigue are not fully understood, but some possible factors include:
- Ongoing inflammation or immune system activation after the infection
- Damage to the organs or tissues caused by the virus
What is the autonomic nervous system and how does it relate to long COVID?
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary functions of the body, such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and temperature regulation. The ANS has two main branches: the sympathetic nervous system, which prepares the body for action or stress (so called ‘flight or fright’), and the parasympathetic nervous system, which restores the body to a calm or relaxed state (so called ‘rest and digest’).
Some studies have suggested that long COVID may be associated with dysautonomia, which is a dysfunction of the ANS that causes abnormal or excessive responses to stimuli. Dysautonomia can affect various organs and systems in the body and cause a range of symptoms, such as:
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which is a condition where the heart rate increases abnormally when standing up, causing dizziness, fainting, long COVID headache and chest pain
- Orthostatic hypotension, which is a condition where the blood pressure drops when standing up, causing dizziness, fainting and blurred vision
- Gastroparesis, which is a condition where the stomach muscles are impaired and cannot move food properly, causing nausea, vomiting, bloating and loss of appetite
- Neurogenic bladder, which is a condition where the bladder muscles are impaired and cannot store or release urine properly, causing urinary frequency, urgency, incontinence or retention.
Dysautonomia is usually mild to moderate in Long COVID but can be severe. We work to support patients using medications, vagus nerve stimulation and other treatments where appropriate.