Did you get COVID-19 and recover from it, only to feel like you did not completely recover from it? 

Are you always tired, dealing with all kinds of aches and pains, or struggling to remember where you kept your car keys? 

These could be indications that you are suffering from long COVID, and you are not alone.

Read on to find answers to the most commonly asked questions about long COVID.

1. What is long COVID?

Long COVID (लॉन्ग कोविड in Hindi), also known as long COVID syndrome, long-haul COVID, post-COVID syndrome, post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, and chronic COVID, is a complex and multifactorial illness that describes the residual effects of a COVID-19 infection.

Long COVID syndrome consists of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that develop during or after a COVID-19 infection, continue for more than 4 to 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

2. What are the common symptoms of long COVID?

These symptoms of long COVID can be observed in anyone who had COVID-19, whether they had an asymptomatic infection, a mild illness, or severe disease. 

Most people observe a combination of any of these symptoms in long COVID:

  • Persistent breathlessness

  • Fatigue 

  • Cough or sore throat

  • Chest pain 

  • Palpitations

  • Difficulty with thinking or concentrating (brain fog)

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Headache

  • Pain in the muscles and joints

  • Fever

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and earache

  • Tingling or prickling sensation on the skin

  • Sleep issues

  • Lightheadedness

  • Rashes 

  • Gastrointestinal dysfunction such as diarrhoea, stomach ache, or loss of appetite

  • Worsening of symptoms after performing physical or mental activities

  • Change in sense of taste and smell

  • Change in the menstrual cycle, such as irregular periods, unusual clotting, and aggravated premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms

3. What causes long COVID syndrome?

Researchers do not yet know why some people continue to have several of these symptoms for months after testing negative for COVID-19.

Some of the explanations given for long COVID are:

  • It is possible that the infection makes your immune system go into overdrive, which then attacks your own tissues, causing some of these symptoms. 

  • Another reason could be the entry of the Coronavirus into your body’s cells, and the damage it causes to your cells. 

  • It is also theorised that fragments of the virus could remain in your body, and become reactivated to cause problems in your body. 

  • Further, COVID-19 may weaken your blood vessels and cause them to leak. The damage to your blood vessels could be behind the problems in your heart, lung, and brain in long COVID.

Since there is such a wide range of symptoms experienced by people with long COVID, there may be several different things affecting different people.

4. Who is at the highest risk of getting long COVID?

Many long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown. A lot more research is needed before all aspects of long COVID can be established clearly. 

According to an article by the British Heart Foundation, research suggests that the elderly, women, and individuals who had five or more symptoms in the first week of contracting COVID-19 are more likely to develop long COVID.

As per a study, some long COVID symptoms are more common in patients who had asthma, were overweight or obese, were smokers, or had a severe illness with COVID-19 and were hospitalised.

5. Is there a way to treat or prevent long COVID?

At present, there are no drugs or treatments available for long COVID, and the focus is on managing your symptoms for improved physical and mental health. Speak to your doctor if you are worried about your symptoms or think you may have long COVID syndrome. 

The best way to prevent long COVID is by getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you can. The vaccines may prevent you from contracting the Coronavirus and thus reduce your chances of developing long COVID. 

Research also suggests that people with long COVID reported an improvement in their symptoms after being vaccinated. As per experts, this may be due to the vaccines resetting their immune response or helping their body attack the remaining fragments of the Coronavirus. However, further studies are needed in this regard.

The debilitating issues resulting from long COVID provide yet another reason to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. 

Continue to wear masks, follow social distancing, practice hand and respiratory hygiene, and get vaccinated as soon as you can.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.