Post-COVID conditions can be described as a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people may experience four weeks or more weeks after being infected with the COVID-19 causing virus. Post-COVID conditions can cause multiple symptoms for various lengths of time, and they’re associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
The World Health Organization has issued a document outlining a formal definition for long COVID, which it now refers to as “post-COVID-19 condition.” Here is what we know about Long COVID Syndrome and its symptoms.
The Signs and Symptoms of Long COVID
The constellation of long COVID symptoms is broad, varies significantly between individuals, and can affect multiple parts of the body. It makes it difficult to diagnose, especially since there is no simple diagnostic test, and COVID-19 can affect almost all of your body’s systems. Similarly, long COVID can affect multiple parts of the body.
- General Symptoms: fatigue, difficulty sleeping, altered mood
- Lungs: shortness of breath, cough, chest pain
- Heart: pounding heart, rapid heartbeat, dizziness after standing
- Nervous System: “brain fog” (i.e., difficulty thinking or concentrating), headache, feelings of pins and needles, altered smell or taste
- Gastrointestinal: diarrhea, abdominal pain
- Occasional: Individuals who had a severe disease or prolonged hospitalizations can also have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Damage to Organs Caused by COVID-19
COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs but can damage many other organs, increasing the risk of long-term health problems.
Imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 patients have shown lasting damage to the heart, even in many patients who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms. It may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.
A type of pneumonia caused by COVID-19 can permanently damage the tiny air sacs in the lungs. Scarring from such an infection can cause breathing difficulties in the long run.
Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures, and a few conditions that cause temporary paralysis. It can also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In a few cases, the researchers found that some adults and children experience multisystem inflammatory syndrome after contracting COVID-19. In this condition, their organs and tissues become severely inflamed.
Blood Clots, Blood Vessel Problems
COVID-19 can make blood cells more likely to clump and form clots, and at times, large clots can cause heart attacks and strokes. Also, the small blood clots that block the tiny blood vessels in the heart muscle could lead to heart damage caused by COVID-19. It is also believed that COVID-19 can weaken blood vessels and cause them to leak, which contributes to potentially long-lasting problems with the liver and kidneys.
Issues with Mood, Fatigue
Those with severe symptoms of COVID-19 may require ventilators to breathe as part of their treatment in a hospital’s ICU, and surviving this experience can make a person more likely later to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
After recovering from COVID-19, many people have developed chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition characterized by extreme fatigue that gets worse with activity but improves with rest.
COVID-19 Effects Still Unknown
Researchers recommend that health care providers closely monitor people who have been infected with COVID-19 to see how their organs function after recovery. Several large medical centers are opening specialized services to treat patients with persistent symptoms and illnesses related to COVID-19.
It’s important to remember that most people infected with COVID-19 recover quickly, but the potentially long-lasting problems from COVID-19 make it even more critical to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following precautions.
Symptoms or Complications of COVID-19
The Bottom Line
Although much is still unknown about how COVID-19 will affect people in the long run, research is ongoing. The best way to reduce your risk of long-term COVID is to avoid contracting the COVID-19 illness. To do so, vaccinations and risk-mitigation strategies such as masking and physical or social isolation are critical in lowering your risk of contracting the virus. If you’re eligible, do get vaccinated as soon as possible. This is critical in protecting yourself and those around you from getting COVID-19 and suffering from Long COVID Syndrome.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Post-covid conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Episode #47 – post-covid-19 condition. World Health Organization. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/science-in-5/episode-47—post-covid-19-condition?gclid=CjwKCAjw_L6LBhBbEiwA4c46ujbjVkg9flfxOtOGumkUEifQqrHnPJDfr7AEvWJYbaVIjWUVtjCSkhoCI-QQAvD_BwE