What are some symptoms of COVID-19 long haulers?
Most people who develop coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) recover within 2–6 weeks, but some experience lasting symptoms. Others with severe COVID-19 may develop complications, require rehabilitation after a hospital stay, or both.
What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?
In addition to the physical impact of COVID-19, people may also experience changes in their mental health.
Below, we describe the long-term effectsTrusted Source of COVID-19 on physical and Mental Health and explore the resources available for help.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
What we know about the long-term effects
Because COVID-19 is a new disease, scientists are unsure about the effects months or years after the initial illness.
Researchers have theorized that the virus responsible for COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), may cause similar effects to other coronaviruses, such as those that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
According to a 2020 study, around 30%Trusted Source of people who recovered from severe SARS or MERS had long-term lung abnormalities. A 2009 study found that 40%Trusted Source of people who survived SARS still experienced chronic fatigue about 3.5 years later, on average.
But while SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are caused by viruses from the same family, there are key differences among them, as the 2020 study highlights. For this reason, looking to the other two diseases does not provide a reliable way to predict COVID-19’s long-term effects.
Research into the impact of COVID-19 is ongoing. Initiatives such as the COVID Symptom Study are tracking peoples’ symptoms and the long-term consequences of the disease via a mobile app.
In mild or moderate cases
Most people who develop COVID-19 experience a mild or moderate illness that improves on its own. However, some people who have had a mild or moderate illness go on to develop lasting symptoms that can be severe — even after they have recovered from the initial infection.
When these symptoms are prolonged, people sometimes refer to the issue as “long COVID” or to the people who have it as “long-haulers.”
People with mild or moderate COVID-19 often Trusted Source go on to report:
- extreme fatigue
- muscle weakness
- a low-grade fever
- trouble concentrating
- lapses in memory
- mood changes
- trouble sleeping
- a sensation of pins and needles
- a loss of taste and smell
- a sore throat
- difficulties swallowing
- skin rashes
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- heart palpitations
- the new onset of diabetes or high blood pressure
These symptoms may last for weeks or months after the body has cleared the virus.
It seems that anyone, including young people and those with no preexisting health conditions, can develop long COVID. Citing a telephone survey, the World Health Organization (WHO) observe that 20%Trusted Source of people aged 18–34 reported prolonged symptoms.