Updated: Jun 20, 2022
Still having cough, chest pain, or tiredness after Covid?
Some people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience long-term effects from their infection, known as post-COVID conditions (PCC) or long COVID.
People call post-COVID conditions by many names, including long COVID, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, and post-acute sequelae of SARS CoV-2 infection (PASC), long-term effects of COVID, and chronic COVID.
Up to 30% of Covid-19 patients still experience some symptoms even after they have recovered from the acute infection. 30% to 40 % of the Long Covid patients managed to return to work three months after being infected with Covid-19, while 60% to 70% were able to return to work within six months of infection.
What do I need to know?
Post-COVID conditions are found more often in people who had severe COVID-19 illness, but anyone who has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience post-COVID conditions, even people who had a mild illness or no symptoms from COVID-19.
People who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and become infected may also be at higher risk of developing post-COVID conditions compared to people who were vaccinated and had breakthrough infections.
There is no single test for post-COVID conditions. While most people with post-COVID conditions have evidence of infection or COVID-19 illness, in some cases, a person with post-COVID conditions may not have tested positive for the virus or known they were infected.
Most people with COVID-19 get better within a few days to a few weeks after infection, so at least four weeks after the infection is the start of when post-COVID conditions could first be identified.
How to know if I have a Long Covid?
People with post-COVID conditions can have a wide range of symptoms that can last more than four weeks or even months after infection. Sometimes the symptoms can even go away or come back again.
Post-COVID conditions may not affect everyone the same way. People with post-COVID conditions may experience health problems from different types and combinations of symptoms happening over different lengths of time. Most patients’ symptoms slowly improve with time. However, for some people, post-COVID conditions may last months, and potentially years, after COVID-19 illness and may sometimes result in disability.
People who experience post-COVID conditions most commonly report :
Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as “post-exertional malaise”)
Respiratory and heart symptoms
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
Change in smell or taste
Depression or anxiety
Joint or muscle pain
Changes in menstrual cycles
Who is most likely to develop Long Covid?
People who have experienced more severe COVID-19 illness, especially those who were hospitalized or needed intensive care.
People who had underlying health conditions prior to COVID-19.
People who did not get a COVID-19 vaccine.
People who experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome during or after COVID-19 illness.
Some people who are affected by health inequities include people from racial or ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities.
Hard to explain symptoms
People with post-COVID conditions may develop or continue to have symptoms that are hard to explain and manage. Clinical evaluations and results of routine blood tests, chest x-rays, and electrocardiograms may be normal. The symptoms are similar to those reported by people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and other poorly understood chronic illnesses that may occur after other infections. People with these unexplained symptoms may be misunderstood by their healthcare providers, which can result in a long time for them to get a diagnosis and receive appropriate care or treatment.
If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms, do have a chat with our Community Doctors to better understand what diagnostics and treatment options are available.