For most people who catch COVID-19, symptoms can last up to 2 weeks and will pass relatively quickly. But others have experienced long-term problems after recovering from the original infection – what is now called long Covid.
What is Long Covid?
Long Covid is a term used to describe the effects of COVID-19 that continue for weeks, or even months beyond the initial illness. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines long Covid as continuing for longer than 12 weeks and which cannot be explained by any other diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of long Covid?
Long Covid prognosis does not appear to be related to the severity of the initial infection. In fact, studies have shown that even non-hospitalised subjects who experienced mild illness were experiencing long Covid.
Lasting symptoms of COVID-19 can 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
- Hearing/ vision loss
- Short term memory loss
- Speech and language issues
The severity of symptoms varies, but many have been left unable to perform tasks like showering, grocery shopping and remembering words.
It is extremely difficult to predict long-term outcomes for people with long Covid due to its recent nature. Some sources state that people may experience symptoms for 60-90 days but may feel tired for up to 6 months. Other research has stated that for some people, long Covid symptoms may continue for many more months or even years where one study stated that for over 90% of respondents, recovery exceeded 35 weeks. The most frequent symptoms after month 6 were found to be fatigue, post-exertional malaise and cognitive dysfunction.
Many long Covid effects are still unknown
Much is still unknown about how COVID-19 will affect people over time, but research is ongoing. Rehab Management has been working closely with our customers to research the ongoing impacts of long Covid, particularly from a return to work perspective. We will continue to share our research with our clients.
It’s important to remember that most people who have COVID-19 recover quickly, but the potentially long-lasting problems from COVID-19 make it even more important to reduce the spread. Precautions include wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, practicing safe hygiene and getting vaccinated.