Long-term effects of coronavirus (Long COVID)
For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “Long COVID”.
Approximately 1 in 10 people with COVID-19 continue to experience symptoms beyond 12 weeks.
About long COVID
How long it takes to recover from coronavirus is different for everybody. Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer. The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get coronavirus. People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.
Symptoms of long COVID
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a coronavirus infection.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
What is the normal recovery pattern?
For most people who have had the COVID infection and are severe enough to need hospital care, we would expect from experience with other similar bacterial and viral infections that in around;
- 4 weeks most of the chest pains, and phlegm (sputum) should have reduced.
- 6 weeks cough and feeling breathless should have greatly reduced.
- 3 months most symptoms should have settled but tiredness may still be present.
- 6 months symptoms should have all settled.
Those of you who were admitted into intensive care will often find that recovery takes longer than this, possibly up to a year.
Non-urgent advice: Contact a GP if:
What happens at your appointment
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life. They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.
These might include:
- blood tests
- checking your blood pressure and heart rate
- a chest X-ray
Treatment and support
Your doctor will talk to you about the care and support you might need. You may be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home. If the symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have. These services can help manage your symptoms and help you recover.
Recovery and support information
As you find yourself recovering from COVID-19 you may still be coming to terms with the impact the virus has had on both your body and mind. These changes should get better over time, some may take longer than others, but there are things you can do to help. Your COVID Recovery website helps you to understand what has happened and what you might expect as part of your recovery.
You can find information and practical ideas to support your or a family members recovery on the Your COVID Recovery website.
This website is about you as a person not the virus. It is aimed to help you recover from your illness. Whatever problems you are experiencing are important if they are causing you concern or limiting you. Every individual experience is unique. Many people will make a full recovery. It may take weeks to a few months. It is expected that some people will have ongoing symptoms of cough, breathlessness, poor or reduced sleep, fatigue, anxiety and low mood.
Clinicians and scientists across the world are working to find out what happens to people as they recover. They are also trying to identify any long term problems that occur. They are trying to work out what treatments work and how to help future disease. Research | Your COVID Recovery