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The Lasting Effects of COVID-19

February 01, 2022

For most people, mild or moderate COVID-19 lasts about 2 weeks. But what about those who have residual symptoms after they recover from COVID-19 and even test negative? This condition is known as “long COVID,” “long-haul COVID” or “post-COVID-19 syndrome.” Long COVID occurs when people have persistent COVID-19 symptoms weeks or months after their initial illness resolves. Long COVID symptoms are complex, potentially serious and can lessen overall quality of life.

There is no correlation between severity of illness and post-COVID-19 syndrome. Even patients who had mild disease and were not hospitalized may have prolonged symptoms. It remains unclear why some people experience symptoms longer than others. Post-COVID-19 can become a serious health concern that causes a variety of challenges in life, including inability to return to work.

Long-COVID-19 symptom management

Because long-COVID is a new disease, healthcare professionals are still learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19 and how to resolve long-COVID.

People with long-COVID experience various combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Difficult breathing or shortness of breath
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
  • "Brain fog" (confusion, short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating)
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleep problems
  • Fever
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in smell or taste
  • Changes in menstrual cycles
  • Rash

Remember: COVID-19 can be a very serious disease. For many, it takes time to recover full strength and return to normal activities. The recovery timeline varies from person to person.

If you experience persistent COVID-19 symptoms for 12 weeks or more after your initial infection, call your primary care provider. If a referral is needed, we have specialists here for your care and support.

The health system is committed to the advancement of medicine. Our ongoing clinical trials at The University of Kansas Medical Center are contributing to the growing body of research about long-COVID.

Don’t have a primary care provider? Call 913-588-1227 for help establishing one.

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Leading research and clinical trials

As part of one of the nation's premier academic medical centers, our care providers are committed to research and scientific discovery through the University of Kansas Medical Center. We can often include our patients in potentially lifesaving clinical trials and treatment options not available anywhere else.

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