Published on Oct 30, 2023
Authored by Dr Cassy Richmond
If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms for several weeks after an acute COVID-19 infection, you are not alone. Read on to learn about the symptoms of Long COVID, who is at risk, and how it can be managed….
Whilst most people who have COVID-19 recover from their acute illness within a few days to weeks, a proportion of people experience new, ongoing or returning symptoms more than 4 weeks after their initial infection.1 When symptoms are present for more than a month after a COVID-19 infection, a diagnosis of post-acute sequelae of SARS COV-2 infection (PASC) - also commonly known as post-COVID syndrome or Long COVID- may be made.1
For some people, Long COVID can endure for months or years after an initial COVID infection.1 Importantly, the symptoms of Long COVID may be really debilitating, which can be distressing for many people.1
Long COVID can occur following an acute COVID infection, regardless of whether the initial illness was severe or relatively mild.2 A range of symptoms have been reported with Long COVID. Some symptoms may include:2
This list of potential Long COVID symptoms is a long one (no pun intended!) – but it is by no means a complete one. You (or someone you know) may have experienced symptoms different to the list above.
There is still so much we are yet to learn about Long COVID, and a lot of research is occurring in this space. It seems that people who experience a severe illness with their acute COVID-19 infection may be at risk of developing Long COVID.3 Having an underlying medical condition, such as cardiac or respiratory disease, diabetes or obesity, may also increase the risk for Long COVID.3 In addition, there is evidence that being unvaccinated can increase the chances for developing Long COVID.4 It is best to speak with your local doctor to find out about your specific situation.
There is no actual test to confirm a diagnosis of Long COVID. If you are experiencing symptoms, your doctor will want to take a thorough history and examine you. Depending on your symptoms, specific investigation tests (such as blood tests and/ or imaging tests) may also be recommended.2
If you have noticed any unexplained symptoms within weeks of a COVID-19 infection, it is best to discuss your situation with your local doctor.
If you have been diagnosed with Long COVID, your doctor will develop an individualised management plan with you. You may advised to keep a diary or log to help you to monitor your symptoms.4 Some people may receive advice about physical activity or nutrition, and/or referred to a medical specialist, or for counselling.4
Don’t forget to be extra kind to yourself during this time – your wellbeing is really important!