Long COVID: What You Need to Know

Also called long COVID, post-COVID conditions can last for months or more

(RxWiki News) COVID symptoms usually last no more than a week or two. But there are some major exceptions to that rule.

For some people, COVID can last multiple weeks, months or more. It's a condition called long COVID or post-COVID conditions.

Here's what you need to know:

What Is Long COVID?

Long COVID is a way to describe COVID symptoms that last longer than they typically should.

Shortly after the COVID pandemic began, health officials began to receive reports of COVID symptoms persisting longer than average — in some cases six months or longer. It wasn't long before this condition began to be called long COVID or post-COVID conditions.

Estimates vary, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Just over 13 percent of those who had COVID reported symptoms that persisted for one month or longer.
  • But only 2.5 percent said their symptoms lasted for three months or longer.
  • Meanwhile, 30 percent of those who were hospitalized with COVID said they still had symptoms at six months.

What Are the Symptoms of Long COVID?

Most of the typical symptoms of COVID-19 infection can also be symptoms of long COVID. However, other symptoms have been reported.

According to the CDC, some of the most common symptoms of long COVID include the following:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Worsening of symptoms after physical exertion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Brain fog
  • Changes in smell or taste

This is not a complete list of symptoms reported with long COVID. And the severity of these symptoms can vary widely from person to person.

Who Is at Risk of Long COVID?

As far as health officials know at this time, anyone who contracts COVID-19 could be at risk of developing long COVID.

However, certain groups appeared to face a higher risk than others:

  • Those who had multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after their active COVID infection
  • Those who did not get vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Those who had underlying health conditions before contracting COVID-19
  • Those who hospitalized, required intensive care or otherwise experienced severe illness

How Can I Prevent Long COVID?

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent post-COVID conditions is to never contract COVID-19 in the first place.

While there's no 100 percent perfect way to prevent COVID, currently approved vaccines provide robust protection. Meanwhile, face masks, hand-washing and social distancing practices are all known methods to decrease the risk of infection.

If you are concerned about your risk for COVID-19 or long COVID, speak with your healthcare provider.

Review Date: 
October 3, 2022