What happens to you after COVID infection?
Clinicians and scientists across the world are working to find out what happens to people as they recover. They are also trying to identify any long term problems that occur. They are trying to work out what treatments work and how to help future disease. During recovery you may be asked to take part in research.
At the time of writing, we do not know exactly what will happen to people as they recover, however, there is a lot of information to help us. We are using knowledge from other countries where the peak of disease was earlier than in the UK. We are also using knowledge from recovery from other types of pneumonia.
Some individuals who experience COVID will be able to manage their symptoms and remain at home, others will need to attend hospital. Severe COVID disease is defined by the level of respiratory support individuals needed when in hospital. This could be where individuals needed a lot of extra oxygen or a bedside machine to help breathing but were able to breathe for themselves.
It could also be where they were put on a ventilator that breathed for them for a period of time. These patients are looked after on an intensive care unit.
There are known consequences on many aspects of the body when someone needs a ventilator for more than two days.
Other admissions to hospital are currently described as ‘mild to moderate’ COVID disease.
These terms are used as guidelines to help decide what type of clinical follow up care is needed. They may seem rather impersonal and is not a reflection on your experience.
What might happen to me?
This website is about you as a person not the virus. The website is aimed to help you recover from your illness. Whatever problems you are experiencing are important if they are causing you concern or limiting you. Every individual experience is unique.
There are many symptoms caused by the acute illness. Common symptoms include cough, fevers, muscle aches, and lethargy (tiredness / fatigue). Some people experienced breathlessness. We know that symptoms of loss of taste and loss of smell were common. The latter symptoms are less common with other viruses.
Many people will make a full recovery. It may take weeks to a few months. We expect that some people will have ongoing symptoms of cough, breathlessness, poor or reduced sleep, fatigue, anxiety and low mood.
Do I need clinical follow-up?
Some people will need further medical follow-up after COVID. We have some national guidance to direct your follow up care. People who have been in hospital with COVID will most likely be followed up by the hospital, this may be over the phone or you might be invited back into hospital for review. You may be invited back for a chest x-ray or follow up for any specific problems you might have had.
Follow up arrangements should be clear on the discharge summary letter given to you or sent to your GP when you are sent home from hospital.
If you had a stay on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) you may be followed up by the ICU team, this follow up may be delivered alongside other teams.
You may not have heard about your follow-up yet as services are rapidly being put in place.