People seek dietary supplements to prevent post-COVID fatigue

April 28, 2022 - 08:00

While health workers suggest people recovering from the COVID-19 maintain a reasonable diet and exercise to recover as quickly as possible, many patients are turning to dietary supplements to speed up their recovery.


A post-COVID treatment drug is sold online. Photo 

HÀ NỘI — While health workers suggest people recovering from the COVID-19 maintain a reasonable diet and exercise to recover as quickly as possible, many patients are turning to dietary supplements to speed up their recovery.

Nguyễn Thị Hường, a bank employee in Hà Nội, said that she had COVID-19 for seven days before testing negative. 

She knew that her colleagues suffered from post-COVID symptoms after returning from work, such as difficulty breathing, coughing and fatigue.

“Worried about the post-COVID-19 symptoms, I ordered two bottles of the lung supplement 'Healthy Care Original Lung Detox' with 180 tablets, from Australia. It was VNĐ1.3 million,” she said.

Five out of seven people in her section had COVID-19 and all of them bought the supplements, Hường said, adding that some people even ordered up to ten boxes to reserve for their families.

Đặng Văn Tiến, of Hà Nội’s Hai Bà Trưng District, said that nearly three weeks after recovering from COVID-19, he began to experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, a sore throat and coughing.

“Although I went to the doctor and a chest X-ray showed no damage to my lungs, I was still worried about the post- COVID-19,” he said.

He contacted online stores and bought a Japanese lung medicine called Tsumura, which cost VNĐ1.25 million per box.

"Visiting online stores and Facebook pages, I was confused about which one to buy because there are so many Japanese lung tonics being offered for sale and they are sold at different prices,” Tiến said.

"The products were said to be from Australia, the US, Japan or France, which made me very confused in choosing one," Tiến said.

He ended up buying the products that sellers suggested or those his friends also used.

According to the owner of a pharmacy store on Trần Khát Chân Street, Hà Nội’s Hai Bà Trưng District, the number of people asking to buy COVID test kits or COVID-19 treatment drugs has dropped recently. 

In the past few weeks, consumers of his store usually asked for supplements to boost health after COVID-19 recovery.

“Consumers often ask to buy products containing ingredients of high-grade medicinal herbs, such as Ganoderma lucidum, cordyceps or ginseng, which are very good for health, with tonic and stimulating effects that help users eat well, sleep well," the owner said. 

Due to the increasing demand for supplements, advertisements and the sale of supplements has become rampant on social networks like Zalo, Facebook and Youtube.

Many sites have servers located abroad, which causes difficulties for the authorities in managing the advertising content and identifying subjects that infringe on advertising regulations.

Moreover, it is difficult to verify the quality of the products sold online, especially when authorities detect and seized large numbers of supplements with unclear origins, or smuggled ones.

Last month, HCM City Market Management Department discovered more than 161,000 products including drugs, functional food, and cosmetics which were suspected of being smuggled at the warehouse of NMD Import-Export Co., Ltd (specialising in domestic and international freight) in Tân Phú District.

Doctor Trần Công Bình, of the Department of Emergency Resuscitation, Central Hospital of Endocrinology, said that if a patient has a severe continuous cough with phlegm, insomnia, shortness of breath or fatigue, they should go to the hospital for a medical check.

“Patients should not self-medicate as it is dangerous,” he said, giving an example of a patient with severe lung damage, who took many different drugs of unknown origin without asking for a doctor's consultation, making their illness more serious.

“Once recovered from the COVID-19, the important thing to do is to have a healthy nutritious diet and proper exercise, so that the body can recover faster. Patients can perform exercises such as jogging, aerobics, cycling, push-ups and squats with moderate intensity and gradually increasing. This helps increase the heart rate and promotes blood flow, which can help the lungs recover faster,” he said.

Doctor Đinh Thế Tiến from Đức Giang General Hospital said that patients who came to get post-COVID checks usually bring with them a lot of tonics, including those for lungs, brain and nerves, in an attempt to strengthen their immune system. However, most of the ingredients and origins are unknown. 

For young people who are fully vaccinated, even if they then are infected with COVID-19, they usually have mild symptoms and recover on their own.

After recovering from COVID-19, symptoms of fatigue can be adjusted with a reasonable lifestyle. People can recover on their own without taking any other special medicine, Tiến said.

He said that it is a big concern when patients self-prescribe drugs without doctors’ advice.

“Many people just listen to the advice of other patients or sellers to buy tonics, which costs money and creates bad health habits because they depend on drugs too much,” he said.

“Tonics are sold widely, though their effects, mechanisms and safety are not guaranteed. Some drugs with unknown ingredients can harm users’ health. Patients need to be very cautious when using drugs or functional foods originating from abroad with unclear origins, or drugs sold on the internet that are not licensed by the Ministry of Health," warned Tiến. —VNS