Post-viral Fatigue

Post viral fatigue syndrome affects people across all areas of occupational performance with symptoms which impact physical, emotional, cognitive and social function. These include but are not limited to persistent fatigue, exhaustion, post exertional malaise, flu like symptoms, sore throats, headaches, muscle aches and pains and disturbed sleep.

If left unmanaged, post viral fatigue can develop into a more long-term chronic condition with significant impact on work, education, and personal and domestic activities of daily living. The cost is huge, both personally and economically.

Swift recognition of these symptoms along with assessment of predisposing and precipitating factors are key to facilitating referral to appropriate specialist fatigue practices and ensuring the best possible outcome.

In early 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) emerged out of SE Asia. An outbreak was identified in Toronto, Canada in March 2003.  Before it was contained 273 people were infected, 44 of whom died.  Several months later it was found that some post SARS patients had not been able to return to work due to continued symptoms.

Harvey Moldofsky, a psychiatrist and sleep specialist at the University of Toronto, published findings in 2011 which showed some participants had fatigue, muscle aches and pains, disturbed sleep and depression years after developing the SARS infection.  He reports that ‘…whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a different virus, it is a member of the same coronavirus family, so it might also cause a post-viral fatigue syndrome’.  He goes on to report that ‘based on my experience with SARS, I am deeply concerned that our definition of ‘recovered’ is far too narrow. It’s likely that some patients will experience chronic fatigue syndromes for months or even years after an initial infection.”


Supporting this is Charles Shepherd, Medical Advisor for the ME Association, who states ‘It’s quite likely that some people will be developing a post-viral fatigue syndrome’.  Shepherd is also receiving reports of previously healthy people who have or probably had coronavirus, not being able to return to their normal levels of function and energy levels in the weeks following onset of symptoms.

Whilst Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists adds ‘We don’t know about corona, but I think it will lead to many, many cases of post-infective fatigue syndrome.’

The management of post infection fatigue is crucial and as fatigue specialists, we already understand the importance of accessing the right support in a very timely fashion.  Having the tools to manage energy levels along with the right sleep advice could prevent post infection fatigue becoming more long term and developing into chronic fatigue syndrome.

A bespoke programme for post infection fatigue is required, which is why the team at South Coast Fatigue have adapted their already well developed, bespoke programmes to create an essential fatigue management programme. This is now available and can be used on its own or in conjunction with a vocational rehabilitation programme to support a return to the workplace.

For more information please contact South Coast Fatigue where your specific requirements can be discussed.