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Illustrated man with COVID virus around him

Long COVID, also called post-COVID conditions or chronic COVID, are persistent problems that some people infected with COVID-19 experience four or more weeks after first being infected.


Long COVID can occur in anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, regardless of their level of severity. People who had mild, moderate, and severe infections can all experience long COVID symptoms. People can experience one or many different symptoms. According to the CDC, the following are possible symptoms of long COVID:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as brain fog)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Dizziness on standing (lightheadedness)
  • Rash
  • Mood changes
  • Change in smell or taste
  • Changes in period cycles

What causes people to get long COVID?

The reasons people may experience long COVID are not currently understood, but there are several theories. One is that COVID-19 causes the immune system to go into overdrive and attack the patient’s bodies in addition to the virus. Another theory is that the virus causes direct damage to cells, which results in long-lasting problems. Multiple theories are currently being researched. Long COVID appears to be more common in older adults and is twice as common in women as it is in men. Obese patients and those with chronic lung problems, such as asthma, may also be at a higher risk.

Treatment and Prevention

There are no specific treatments for long COVID, but individual symptoms may be treated. For example, try getting enough rest if fatigue is a symptom that a patient is experiencing.

Vaccination helps to prevent long COVID by protecting people from getting COVID in the first place. Interestingly, there is some evidence to show that the symptoms of long COVID may improve after getting vaccinated. As many as 40 percent of patients report improvement of long COVID symptoms after vaccination. The reason why vaccination may help is not clear, but is being researched.

Get the Shot! - Alabama ExtensionSpencer H. Durham, Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy

New August 2021, Know The Truth About Long COVID

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