What are the post-COVID (long COVID) conditions?
COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by a virus. Many people recover within a few days or weeks of being infected with the virus. But others have post-COVID conditions. They can:
- Have symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even years
- Seems to recover from COVID-19 but then their symptoms return
- Develop new symptoms or new health conditions within a few months of taking COVID-19
There are several other names for post-COVID conditions. It is often referred to as long COVID. But it may also be called long-term COVID, long-term effects of COVID, chronic COVID, post-acute COVID-19, and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC).
Who is more likely to develop post-COVID (long COVID) conditions?
Anyone infected with COVID-19, whether severe or mild, can have persistent symptoms. But you’re at higher risk for post-COVID conditions if you:
- Get seriously ill with COVID-19, especially if you are hospitalized or need intensive care.
- Had an underlying health condition before you received COVID-19.
- Did not receive one Vaccines against covid-19.
- Having multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID-19. MIS is a rare but serious condition in which various body parts become inflamed.
What are the symptoms of a post-COVID (long COVID) condition?
Post-COVID conditions do not affect everyone in the same way. They can cause many types and combinations of symptoms in different people. Symptoms can affect different parts of the body, for example:
- General symptoms, such as weariness and fever
- Respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing and a cough
- Heart symptoms, such as chest and palpitations
- Neurological symptoms such as difficulty thinking and concentrating (“brain fog”), headacheand sleep problems
- Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach ache
Most people’s symptoms slowly improve over time. But for some people, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or longer. Sometimes the symptoms are severe enough to lead to disabilities.
How are post-COVID (long COVID) conditions diagnosed?
There is no specific test for post-COVID conditions. People can have many different symptoms that can also be caused by other health problems. And sometimes tests like blood tests and imaging can be normal. So it can be difficult for health care providers to diagnose post-COVID conditions.
To find out if you have the following COVID conditions, your provider:
- Will ask about your medical history. This includes asking if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, based on a positive test, symptoms or exposure.
- Will do a physical exam.
- Can order blood and Picture tests.
What are the treatments after COVID (long COVID)?
There is no specific treatment for post-COVID conditions. You and your provider can work together to create an individualized care plan to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Are Post-COVID (Long COVID) Conditions Preventable?
The best way to prevent post-COVID conditions is to avoid contracting COVID-19. Keeping up-to-date with vaccines (including boosters) against COVID-19 can help prevent COVID-19 infection and protect against severe illness.