One thing long haulers agree on is that covid is a very inflammatory disease. People frequently report:
- A flare up in autoimmune diseases, that were previously dormant or well-managed
- Increased arthritis pain
- General joint and muscle pains in people who have not previously been diagnosed with any form of arthritis
- Increased allergic reactions
- Skin flare-ups, from acne to eczema to hives
- Red, dry eyes – and sometimes a change in vision
- Gum inflammation and a sensitive tongue
- Outbreaks of cold sores and/or canker sores
- Stomach issues, including acid indigestion
- Bladder issues and infections, including overactive bladder
In short, it seems like long covid can exacerbate any previous health issues you may have had! And let’s admit, we all have a few. In my case, I had outbreaks of eczema, which I hadn’t experienced since a child. I started experiencing acne again. I had dry, red, painful eyes (more on that in a later post). And, finally, some days – and most nights – my bones felt like they were made of glass and on fire.
I am not a medical professional, but I am sharing what has helped me in case it helps someone else.
Let’s start with something extremely easy – dental hygiene.
Yes, I know my readers have good dental hygiene, because y’all are classy like that. But, in researching inflammation I found article after article stating that any inflammation in your mouth can contribute to inflammation elsewhere in your body. Sounded too simple but I decided to try it. One of those “can’t hurt, might help” things. Worst case scenario, I’d have extremely fresh breath.
Here is my routine, which is also tailored to the dry mouth/irritated mouth one often has after Covid.
If you don’t already have an electric toothbrush, get one. It needn’t be expensive. There are models that cost upwards of $300, but do you really need a toothbrush that has Bluetooth? The most important feature on a toothbrush is the timer – you want to be sure you’re brushing for a full two minutes. If you have sensitive gums, a toothbrush with a “regular” and “gentle” mode might be helpful. You should be able to find a toothbrush like this for $30 or less.
Battery Operated Toothbrush
To take to work (to brush after lunch) or on travels. Yes, you could take your regular electric toothbrush to work, but it’s a pain to keep up with it. Also, if you are not “free range” and have an assigned seat, or at least an assigned locker to keep your things, you can leave it at work. If someone steals it (or you leave it behind in a hotel room), it won’t be a big deal. I use a child’s battery operated toothbrush because it takes up less space in my purse. (And besides, I like minions).
Toothpaste can be an issue for those long haulers who lost their sense of smell/taste. Because when it comes back, many smells/tastes seem too strong. And sometimes after Covid your sense of smell and taste is whacked. In my case, mint smelled like mold to me. So when I brushed my teeth with a mint toothpaste, instead of minty breath, I had moldy breath.
Unfortunately most adult toothpastes are mint – peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen. Those that aren’t are usually cinnamon, which also has a strong taste/smell. The solution? Try a kid’s toothpaste. They come in a variety of flavors – mostly fruity. And the taste tends to be mild and dissipates quickly. Hello (which is vegan and leaping bunny certified) says it’s fine for an adult to use a child’s toothpaste, as long as it’s not a toddler training toothpaste. Turns out many adults are allergic to mint!
My favorite of the Hello toothpastes is the Wild Strawberry, which tastes like strawberry cheesecake. (Seriously.) But I’ve liked all the flavors I’ve tried. You’ll be relieved to know that their “Unicorn” toothpaste (which has sparkles!) was never tested on unicorns.
Use A Non SLS (Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate) Toothpaste
SMS, the ingredient that gives toothpaste its “foaming” action, is a known irritant. I used to break out frequently around my mouth and chin, and had chronically chapped lips. Switching to a SLS free toothpaste cleared those issues up! I’ve also heard from friends that switching to a SLS free toothpaste helped with their canker or cold sores. If you are experiencing any irritation inside or immediately outside your mouth, a SLS free toothpaste could be extremely beneficial. Hello toothpastes are SLS free. If you don’t mind mint, so are Jason toothpastes.
Bonus: When you brush your teeth, you’ll no longer be foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. That means a lot less toothpaste spots and splashes in your sink and on your bathroom mirror.
Yeah, you already know you should be doing this. There are so many kinds of floss – string, threader floss for bridges/braces, floss picks. My warning to you as a Covid long-hauler is that many flosses are flavored – usually with mint or cinnamon! Be sure to read the package so you don’t accidentally wind up with flavored floss, if mint or cinnamon is an issue.
Use An Alcohol Free Mouthwash
If you’ve had Covid, you are probably experiencing dry mouth, which alcohol will only exacerbate. And if you have any irritation in your mouth, it will sting! Before Covid I really liked Jason mouthwashes (Jason has been cruelty for at least as long as I’ve been veg, if not forever). Now that I have the mint-smelling-like-mold issue, I opt for Hello mouthwash in the Wild Strawberry flavor that matches the toothpaste.
Watch Out For Chewing Gum
Sugar-free chewing gum is often recommended for dry mouth, which a lot of Covid long haulers have. Be aware that Xylitol, a common sweetener often used in gum, is highly toxic to dogs. Just one stick could kill a small dog 10 pounds or under! Being the mother of highly intelligent and mischievous terrors … erm, I mean TERRIERS … I choose to forego the chewing gum entirely and stick to sipping water.
Also be aware that Xylitol is often found in toothpastes (including my beloved Hello and Jason) so NEVER brush your dog’s teeth with a human toothpaste, and ALWAYS store your toothpaste in a place they can’t get to. (I store mine in a plastic bag, inside a closed drawer – not on my bathroom countertop.)
In future posts I’ll discuss inflammation of the eyes, skin, muscles/joints, and how to eat to beat inflammation.
*I am not affiliated with Hello or Jason, nor did I receive any sort of compensation for mentioning their products in this review … I just really like and use their products.