Some people can experience long-term effects from a COVID-19 infection, which is known as “post-COVID conditions” or “long COVID.” Post-COVID conditions include a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. Anyone who was infected can experience post-COVID conditions. People who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and become infected might be at higher risk of developing post-COVID conditions compared to people who are vaccinated.
There is no test to diagnose post-COVID conditions, and people may have symptoms that come from other health problems. This can make it difficult for healthcare providers to recognize post-COVID conditions. Healthcare providers consider a diagnosis of post-COVID conditions based on a health examination and the person’s health history, including whether they had a diagnosis of COVID-19 either by a positive test or by symptoms or exposure.
People with post-COVID conditions can have a wide range of symptoms that can last more than four weeks or even months after infection. Sometimes the symptoms can even go away or come back again.
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)
Respiratory and heart symptoms
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
- Pins-and-needles feelings
- Change in smell or taste
- Depression or anxiety
- Joint or muscle pain
- Changes in menstrual cycles
Post-COVID conditions may not affect everyone the same way. People with post-COVID conditions may experience health problems from different types and combinations of symptoms happening over different lengths of time. Most patients’ symptoms slowly improve with time. However, for some people, post-COVID conditions can last weeks, months, or longer after COVID-19 illness and can sometimes result in disability.
The best way to prevent these long-term complications is to prevent COVID-19. Get vaccinated today even if you already had COVID-19.
Read more about this on the CDC website Post-COVID conditions.