What is long COVID?
Long COVID is a multi-organ condition that some people have after getting COVID-19.
Most people with COVID-19 feel better in a few days or weeks. For some people, COVID-19 symptoms can up to 12 months or longer.
We are still learning about long COVID and researching to understand how it develops, who is at risk, and prevention and treatment options.
Symptoms of long COVID
Long COVID symptoms can be different for everyone. You can get long COVID even if you only had mild or no symptoms when you were first diagnosed with COVID-19.
Some common symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- changes in smell or taste
- chest pain
- difficulty sleeping
- anxiety or depression
- cognitive dysfunction.
This list does not include every long COVID symptom. These symptoms could be caused by something other than COVID-19.
Long COVID can increase the risk of serious health problems for at least 12 months after getting sick, including an increased risk of:
- heart attacks, strokes or heart inflammation
- blood clots in the lungs or elsewhere
- diabetes or worsened control of existing diabetes
- lung fibrosis or other lung problems
- kidney damage
- severe mental health issues.
Diagnosing long COVID
See a GP if you have long COVID symptoms. Your GP might organise tests and give you advice on managing your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, prolonged, or significantly affect your quality of life, they may refer you to a specialist.
Most long COVID symptoms can be managed at home and will go away on their own within 12 months. A small number of people might experience symptoms for 12 or 24 months.
Treatment for long COVID
Treatment for long COVID aims to manage symptoms and any acute illness complications. There is no single treatment for long COVID.
Who is at risk of long COVID?
- who are women
- who smoke
- who have not had a COVID-19 vaccine
- with chronic health conditions
- with obesity
- who had a severe COVID-19 infection (requiring hospitalisation)
- who have had COVID-19 multiple times.
Long COVID is not contagious, even if you have symptoms.