Long COVID

 

Talk to your health care provider if you think you or your child may be experiencing long COVID or a post-COVID condition.

 

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What is long COVID?

Long COVID, or post-COVID conditions, are symptoms you may experience weeks or months after having COVID-19. These symptoms might be new, returning, or lingering from your original illness. While much is still unknown about long COVID, information and resources are available to support people who experience these symptoms. 

Symptoms

Many different symptoms can be associated with long COVID. Research has shown there are many different kinds of symptoms (link para español) reported as post-COVID conditions, affecting a wide range of organ systems, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, musculoskeletal system and brain. Some people experience one symptom and others have a combination of several different symptoms. Some experience symptoms for multiple weeks, months, or longer.

Survey data (link para español) suggests that the most common symptoms are: 

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Attention disorder
  • Hair loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Joint pain
  • Cough
  • Sweat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Hearing loss or tinnitus

Long COVID affects many people

Long COVID can affect a wide range of people, including people who had mild or no symptoms when they originally had COVID-19 and people who were previously healthy. 

Recent large-scale research documented in a CDC MMWR report (link para español) shows that 1 in 5 people ages 18–64 years and 1 in 4 people ages 65 or older developed post-COVID conditions after their initial COVID-19 infection. 

Some people are at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19 because of where they live or work, or because they can’t get health care. Health inequities may put some people at greater risk for developing post-COVID conditions.

Scientists are 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.

Children and long COVID

Generally, children seem to have milder long COVID symptoms that resolve more quickly compared to adults. Reports have found the symptom most commonly reported among children (12 weeks after infection) was fatigue, followed by headaches, abdominal pain, muscle pain, and concentration issues. Some research reports digestive issues (link para español). A pediatric rheumatologist from the long COVID clinic at Yale has described (link para español) symptoms in children as generalized achiness and decreased physical conditioning. Long COVID Kids (link para español) is a support group specifically for children and youth experiencing long COVID. 

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Resources & Support

Contact your health care provider

It is important to let your health care provider know if you've recovered from COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms that could be attributed to long COVID. Help may be available. 

Bring this checklist to your next 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.

Post-COVID care centers

You might 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 www.survivorcorps.com/pccc-ca.

Support groups

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

Long COVID support groups include:

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How to prevent long COVID

Avoid becoming infected with COVID-19

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 also reduces your risk of experiencing long COVID. In addition to vaccination, you can reduce your risk of infection by avoiding large gatherings, masking in crowded places, and washing your hands often. 

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For more information

Research

While research about long COVID is ongoing, several key studies provide insight:

To help or participate in long COVID research, visit Recovercovid.org.

Other resources

Learn more about long COVID from trusted sources.

CDC Long COVID Resources 

(CDC)

Long COVID Questions & Answers 

(California Department of Public Health)