Long-Term Effects of COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Long-Term Effects of COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Most people who have COVID-19 recover quickly from their acute illness within a couple of weeks and return to normal health status. Other patients, however, can continue to experience symptoms for months afterward. These people are said to be experiencing post-COVID-19 syndrome, also referred to as long-hauler syndrome or long COVID, and they are typically referred to as COVID long-haulers.*

Who is most likely to be affected?

Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions are the most likely to experience long-term COVID-19 symptoms. But even young, otherwise healthy people—and people who had mild cases of the disease and were not hospitalized—can have ongoing symptoms and long-term complications.

What are some long-term symptoms and complications?

woman experiencing a prolonged COVID recovery time

Symptoms of COVID during recovery timeline.

Frequently reported long-term symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration, or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Dizziness when you stand
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

Some less common, but potentially more serious, long-term complications that have been reported are:

  • Organ damage (heart, lungs, and brain), including:
    • Heart inflammation and damage
    • Scar tissue that can lead to long-term breathing problems
    • Strokes, seizures, and Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Blood clots and blood vessel problems, like:
    • Weakened blood vessels
    • Vessel leakage
  • Problems with mood and fatigue, such as:
    • PTSD
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Mood swings

All long-term symptoms and their effects are not yet known. If you’ve had COVID-19, your doctor will likely want to monitor your health closely. Continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, and avoid crowds, especially indoors. If you experience any of the symptoms above long-term, contact your healthcare provider.

*Mayo Clinic. (2023, June. 22). COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Long-Term Effects. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-long-term-effects/art-20490351

Much about the novel coronavirus, i.e., COVID-19, is still not fully understood. As research progresses and our knowledge of the virus increases, information can change rapidly. We strive to update all of our articles as quickly as possible, but there may occasionally be some lag between scientific developments and our revisions.

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