A woman sitting by her bed and holding her head
Long COVID
A woman sitting by her bed and holding her head

Reminders

  • Each individual will experience COVID recovery differently.
  • The course of recovery does not appear to be related to the severity of the initial infection.
  • Many people make a full recovery within 12 weeks but some people do not.
  • For some people, symptoms can persist for longer than 12 weeks and may change over time and new symptoms may develop.

What is Long COVID?

Most infections with COVID resolve within the first 4 weeks. “Long COVID” is an informal term that is commonly used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after an acute infection of COVID. Depending on how long you have ongoing symptoms for, it can be called one of 2 things:

  • Ongoing symptomatic COVID
    This is where your symptoms continue for more than 4 weeks. If your symptoms last for longer than 12 weeks, it will then be called;
  • Post-COVID Syndrome
    This is where your ongoing symptoms continue for longer than 12 weeks and cannot be explained by any other condition.

Symptoms of Long Covid can be many and varied and can change over time. The most commonly reported symptoms include (but are not limited to) the following:

Respiratory & Cardiovascular symptoms
  • Breathlessness
  • Cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
Generalised symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Pain
Neurological symptoms
  • Cognitive impairment (‘brain fog’, loss of concentration or memory issues)
  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Pins and needles or numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Delirium (in older people)
Gastrointestinal symptoms (digestive system)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Anorexia and reduced appetite (in older people)
  • Weight loss
Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
Psychological/psychiatric symptoms
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Symptoms of anxiety
Ear, nose and throat symptoms
  • Tinnitus
  • Earache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and/or smell
Dermatological symptoms
  • Skin rashes

NICE Guidance Dec 2020

 

What should I expect during my recovery from COVID?

The recovery time is different for everyone. The length of your recovery is not necessarily related to the severity of your initial illness or whether you were in hospital. If new or ongoing symptoms do occur and they are causing you concern, you should always seek medical advice and support. For additional information please see our When Do I Need To Seek Help page.