If you or your child may be experiencing Long COVID or a post-COVID condition, it is a good idea to talk with your health care provider. You can also find more information below. 



The Public Health Department is gathering input from San Luis Obispo County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, to help health officials better understand the long-term health impacts of COVID-19. If you are a San Luis Obispo County resident who previously tested positive for COVID-19, we encourage you to answer questions about your experience. The form will take 5 to 10 minutes to complete and all responses are confidential.

Answer Follow-Up Questions (English)Responder Preguntas De Seguimiento (Español) 


What is Long COVID?

The CDC and National Institutes of Health define long COVID as new or ongoing health problems experienced four weeks or more after initial infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even people who have mild initial COVID-19 symptoms can develop long COVID.

"Emerging evidence suggests that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, can have lasting effects on nearly every organ and organ system of the body weeks, months, and potentially years after infection. Documented serious post-COVID-19 conditions include cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological, renal, endocrine, hematological, and gastrointestinal complications, as well as death.”  (Source: CDC)


The CDC reports (para Español) that one in five adults (ages 18+) have a health condition that might be related to their previous COVID-19 infection.  

There is no specific test to confirm a diagnosis of long COVID; it is diagnosed primarily through a medical history and physical examination. 

See this infographic on Long COVID data from the National Institute for Health Care Management for an overview of the condition. 


Who Is at Risk for Long COVID?

Anyone who is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, no matter the severity of the illness, is at risk of developing long COVID. Scientists are currently researching the factors that may increase the risk of developing post-COVID conditions. So far, studies have identified asthma and diabetes as health conditions that may increase the risk of long COVID.  It has also been noted that the frequency of long COVID symptoms appears to increase with age; most patients were in the age range of 36 to 64. Long COVID symptoms might also be more prevalent among women and in people with a preexisting chronic medical illness.



Symptoms of long COVID can be numerous, severe or mild, and often affect a variety of organs; some have been observed to persist for over two years.  

It is common for people with long COVID to experience persistent symptoms that can significantly impact daily life and well-being. For example, U.S. and U.K. investigations of approximately 2,000 previously hospitalized Covid patients found that six months later, more than half still have problems managing finances and paying bills as well as completing everyday activities like preparing meals, bathing, getting dressed, or walking across a room.   

Fatigue, including post-exertional malaise (PEM) and impaired daily function and mobility, is the most common symptom of long COVID reported. Patients describe profound exhaustion, in which fatigue is out of proportion to exertion. Other common symptoms include dyspnea (shortness of breath) or other breathing difficulties, headache, and cognitive dysfunction. More than 200 lasting symptoms have been reported.  

Here is a pictorial graphic depicting a wide range of different documented symptoms  (link para Español)


Large-scale research has found that symptoms of Long COVID can include:  

Brain (Neurological): poor sleep quality or insomnia (38% to 90% of patients), headache (17% to 91.2%), speech and language problems (48% to 50%), confusion (20%), dementia (28.6%), difficulty concentrating (1.9% to 27%), and memory loss or cognitive impairment (5.4% to 73%) altered smell or loss of smell (9% to 27%), altered taste (5% to 18%), numbness or tingling sensations (6%), blurred vision (17.1%), ringing in the ears (16%), dizziness (2.6% to 6%) and lightheadedness or presyncope (feeling faint) (7%)  

Mental Health/Psychological: depression (4.3% to 25% of patients), anxiety (1.9% to 46%), obsessive compulsive disorder (4.9% to 20%), and posttraumatic stress disorder (29%)

Breathing (Respiratory): shortness of breath (up to 87.1% of patients) including breathlessness (48% to 60%), wheezing (5.3%), cough (10.5% to 46%), and congestion (32%)  

Heart/Blood Vessel (Cardiovascular): higher risk for major adverse events such as stroke, transient ischemic attack, dysrhythmia, inflammatory heart disease, acute coronary disease, myocardial infarction (heart attack), ischemic cardiopathy, angina, heart failure, nonischemic cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrest and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)  

Musculo-skeletal: body aches (20% of patients), joint pain (78%), and muscle aches (87.7%) 

Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain  

Dermatologic (Skin): pruritus (itching) and rash  

Reproductive and Endocrine (Hormone-Related): extreme thirst, irregular menstruation, sexual dysfunction, new or worsening allergic response


Children and Long COVID Conditions

Three groups of children have an increased occurrence of post-COVID conditions: older children (ages 12+), children who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, and children with allergic diseases (including asthma, airborne allergies and allergic skin problems).  

Common symptoms in children include fatigue (including post-exertional malaise), shortness of breath, cough and wheezing, chest pain, palpitations, headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, loss of smell or taste, attention difficulties and cognitive fatigue, lightheadedness or dizziness in an upright position (orthostatic intolerance and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), sleep problems (having difficulty sleeping at night or getting to sleep) and mental health symptoms such as sadness, mood swings, and anxiety.   

For more information, see CDC Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) | Evaluating and Supporting Children and Adolescents Presenting with Post-COVID Conditions

If you or your child may be experiencing long COVID or a post-COVID condition, it is a good idea to talk with your health care provider.


Seeking Support and Care for Long COVID Symptoms

Step 1: If you think you might be experiencing a life-threatening emergency related to a COVID-19 infection, seek medical care immediately by dialing 911. Some post-COVID health problems (such as heart attack, stroke and blood clots) require immediate care. 

Step 2: If your symptoms feel less urgent, make an appointment to see your primary healthcare provider for a complete evaluation. If you don’t have a primary provider, please contact our Health Care Access and Navigation team at 805-781-4838 or contact us online. This team can help you get connected with care.

Step 3: Bring this checklist to your appointment: Healthcare Appointment Checklist for Post-COVID Conditions (link para Español). Keep a journal or a list for a week or two to document your activities, symptoms, their severity, and anything that made you feel better or worse. Bring this with you to your appointment.

Step 4: Your primary doctor can assist you with referrals to specialist physicians as needed for evaluation and management of your symptoms.

Step 5: If the care that you need cannot be accessed locally, you may be referred to or consider seeking care outside of your normal network. For a list of California-based providers focused on treating patients who have long COVID, visit survivorcorps.com/pccc-ca  

Step 6: Talking with others about long COVID can help improve your emotional and mental health, as well as provide support and information about available resources.    

Long COVID support groups include:  

Step 7: Restoring movement  

For some patients, at-home exercises can help with recovery and rehabilitation. For more information, see  Johns Hopkins Medicine Rehibilitation Network | Bouncing Back From COVID-19: Your Guide to Restoring Movement

Step 8: To help or participate in long COVID research, visit recovercovid.org 

You can also read more about ongoing research, here:  

Step 9: Learn more about long COVID from trusted sources 


How to Prevent Long COVID

Long COVID can happen after any COVID-19 infection, even mild or asymptomatic cases. Being up to date on your  COVID-19 vaccines is the first recommended step to prevent COVID-19 infection and reduces your risk of experiencing long COVID. In a large summary study, vaccination was associated with an overall 43% reduction of long Covid (JAMA Network | Risk Factors Associated With Post−COVID-19 Condition: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.)   

In addition to vaccination, you can reduce your risk of infection by masking in crowded places, washing your hands often, and avoiding large gatherings. Continued vigilance to prevent infections is key. 

If you become infected with COVID-19, contact your medical provider or use California's free telehealth system to discuss treatment with Paxlovid. In a recently published large research study, the use of Paxlovid was associated with a 26% reduction of long Covid (JAMA Network | Association of Treatment With Nirmatrelvir and the Risk of Post–COVID-19 Condition.)

Research is ongoing to find preventative treatments to reduce the development of long COVID.


Resources for Health Care providers