For some people, COVID-19 can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called long COVID.
People who had no symptoms or mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems after COVID-19.
How long it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everybody. Your recovery may not be related to how ill you were with the infection.
We are still learning about the different ways that COVID-19 affects people and how people recover from it.
Symptoms of long COVID
Many people feel better in a few days or weeks after a COVID-19 infection has gone. Most people will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection. You can also have new symptoms that you did not have when you were first ill with COVID-19.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and thinking (‘brain fog’)
- problems sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles or numbness
- joint pain or muscle pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite, weight loss
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat
- changes to sense of smell or taste
Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if:
- you're worried about any ongoing or new symptoms
- your symptoms do not improve after 4 weeks
- your symptoms get worse
At your GP appointment
Make some notes of things you want to discuss with your GP. Take those notes with you on the day.
Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and the impact they're having on your life.
Your GP may:
- suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could cause them
- give you advice about how to manage your symptoms at home
- talk to you about available care and support
- refer you to a service that specialises in the symptoms you have or to a long COVID clinic
They will tell you if you have any symptoms that need immediate action.
If you were in hospital with COVID-19, the hospital team may check on how you are recovering.
Diagnosing long COVID
You may be diagnosed with long COVID if your symptoms:
- continue 3 months after you were infected with COVID-19
- are present for at least 2 months - symptoms can come and go
- have an impact on your day-to-day life
Treatment and support
There is no single treatment for long COVID. Treatment options depend on your symptoms and how they affect your day-to-day activities.