Understanding Long COVID

If you still feel sick or have symptoms weeks or months after getting COVID, you’re not alone.

What is Long COVID?

Long COVID affects people for weeks, months, or even longer after getting COVID-19.  They may have difficulty carrying out daily activities because of their symptoms. Long COVID does not affect everyone the same way.

The symptoms may:

  • Start soon after infection or after you’ve already recovered from COVID.
  • Come and go.
  • Be different than the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Go away with time.

Even if you don’t feel sick when first infected with COVID-19, you can develop Long COVID symptoms later.

Long COVID may also be called long-haul COVID, post-COVID conditions, chronic COVID, and post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC). 

Common symptoms:

  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble thinking
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Feeling anxious or depressed

Who is more likely to get Long COVID?

Scientists are working to answer this question. They think people are more at risk if they:

  • Had severe COVID (if they were hospitalized, for example).
  • Had other health conditions such as diabetes or a lung condition before getting COVID.
  • Did not get a COVID vaccine.

How can I prevent Long COVID?

Get vaccinated and boosted to lower your chances of getting COVID-19 and then getting Long COVID.

What should I do if I think I have Long COVID?

Talk with your health care provider. There is no test for Long COVID, but your provider may do tests to understand what’s happening in your body. If they diagnose you with Long COVID, they will work with you to choose a treatment that is best for you, based on your symptoms.

You can help scientists understand Long COVID

Participating in research studies helps scientists understand this illness and find better ways to treat it. The RECOVER Initiative hopes to understand who is at risk, why some people recover while others do not, and how to treat Long COVID. Anyone can volunteer for RECOVER. This includes people with COVID or who have never had COVID. Learn more at recovercovid.org.

It is important that people from all walks of life participate in research, so that researchers can better understand how Long COVID affects different people. To do that, the studies need to include people of all races and ethnicities, genders, ages, jobs, education levels, incomes, health conditions and U.S. locations.

Learn about why this matters at covid19community.nih.gov/about/scientific-pathway.

Published: September 2, 2022