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What is Long COVID?

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), post COVID-19 conditions occur in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.


Presently it is believed that as many as 1 in 10 people who become ill with COVID-19 have not recovered fully when followed up 9 months after their acute illness.

It is thought that the ongoing symptoms or the development of symptoms after the initial illness may be due to the damage that occurred in the body when patients first became ill with COVID-19. Patients who become ill with COVID-19 may have damage to their lungs, heart and brain, but other organs in the body may have been affected too, which can result in a wide variety of symptoms.

Long COVID may be a result of damage caused by the body’s own immune response to the virus during the initial illness as well as the damage caused by the virus itself. However, there is not enough evidence for now and we do not fully understand the reason behind why people develop Long COVID.

What are the common symptoms?

There is no test to diagnose post-COVID conditions, and people may have a wide variety of symptoms that could come from other health problems. These symptoms may be new onset, following initial recovery from an acute COVID-19 episode, or persist from the initial illness. Symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time.

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.


General symptoms

  • Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort (also known as ‘post-exertional malaise’)
  • Fever


Respiratory and heart symptoms

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)


Neurological symptoms

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as ‘brain fog’)
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness)
  • Pins-and-needles feelings
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety


Digestive symptoms

  • Diarrhoea 
  • Stomach pain


Other symptoms

  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Rash
  • Changes in menstrual cycles


There is no test to diagnose post-COVID conditions, and people may have a wide variety of symptoms that could come from other health problems. This can make it difficult to recognise post-COVID conditions.  Therefore, the best diagnosis is to do a thorough health examination through comprehensive health screening and identify any issues at an early stage. By understanding your health, you are in the best possible position to manage your wellbeing into the future. 

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