Understanding Long COVID: What You Need to Know About Symptoms, Severity, and Support

Published August 18, 2023

As we continue to deal with the ongoing effects of COVID-19, a new concern has emerged: Long COVID. Long COVID is when people experience symptoms for an extended period of time after recovering from acute COVID. 

Studies suggest that Long COVID is relatively common. Approximately 10% to 30% of adults who contract COVID-19 develop prolonged symptoms, making it an alarming healthcare issue in the USA.

In this article, we provide you with a comprehensive overview of Long COVID, including: 

Identifying Long COVID

Long COVID is a complex condition that is a significant concern in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unlike the acute phase of COVID-19, where symptoms are immediate and short-term, Long COVID manifests as a range of symptoms that linger for an extended period after the initial viral infection has resolved. This condition can impact a person's quality of life, causing physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges.

Symptoms of Long COVID

Long COVID is characterized by symptoms that continue for weeks or months after a COVID-19 infection has resolved. These symptoms can affect various body systems and differ from the acute phase of the illness. Visit our Symptoms page to learn more about typical COVID symptoms.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with Long COVID experience a range of symptoms, including but not limited to: 

  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Brain fog
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Racing heart rate
  • Fluctuating symptoms
  • Impact on daily life, productivity, and quality of life
  • Challenges resuming normal activities and responsibilities

How Long After COVID Does Long COVID Start?

While the acute phase of COVID-19 typically lasts for a few weeks, Long COVID becomes evident in the weeks or months following the initial illness

Individuals often notice the first signs of Long COVID around four to eight weeks after getting sick. However, the timeline varies from person to person, with some experiencing symptoms earlier or much later. The reason behind the varied onset is not fully understood, and ongoing research is working to unravel the underlying mechanisms of Long COVID.

Is Long COVID Permanent?

There is no definitive answer regarding the permanence of Long COVID. While some individuals experience improvement in their symptoms over time, the condition has become more severe for others.

Many people with Long COVID experience gradual improvement as they move through the recovery phase. However, this process can be slow and frustrating while symptoms linger for weeks or months. The course of Long COVID is different for everyone, and the factors influencing its duration and severity are still being studied.

How Long Does Long COVID Last?

Long COVID symptoms typically resolve within a few weeks. However, the recovery phase can be prolonged for some people, with symptoms lasting for several months.

Many individuals with Long COVID experience symptoms for over three months after the initial infection. Long COVID can extend for six months or longer in more persistent cases. Those affected may face additional challenges in their daily lives, such as returning to work or resuming regular activities. 

While each case is different, studies are being done to help the medical community understand and treat this condition. Recently, there has been more information about the positive impact of exercise on Long COVID symptoms. Check out our blog post, Exercise After COVID, to learn more. 

How Can Healthcare Providers Help?

Your healthcare provider is your ally in this journey of recovery. To get a comprehensive understanding of your condition, they may conduct various evaluations and tests. For added support, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a helpful checklist to assist patients and their providers during Long COVID-related appointments.

Healthcare providers are equipped with resources to help you cope with the challenges of Long COVID. They can connect you with support groups, paramedical services, and mental health professionals. 

Long COVID can lead to disabilities, and it is covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. If you are experiencing Long COVID-related disabilities, your healthcare provider will play a crucial role in helping you access support. They can fill out necessary paperwork, such as disability benefit applications or medical documentation needed for workplace accommodations.

If you are looking for specific health-related services for Long COVID, the USA Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a comprehensive list of available resources. You can find the support you need by clicking here.


Understanding Long COVID is a journey we are all on together. Stay informed and proactive, and don't hesitate to seek help when needed! Knowledge is our most powerful tool in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

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