While most people with COVID-19 recover completely, thousands of people who survived the condition are still struggling to return to their baseline even months later.
More than half of people who have had COVID experience symptoms that persist long after they have gotten over the infection, even if their infection was mild, in a phenomenon that is still a mystery to science.
How long does post-COVID fatigue last?
Post-COVID-19 fatigue is more than just tiredness. It can make a person feel completely exhausted and generally unwell. These symptoms are common not only with COVID illness, but with viral infections during which the body is struggling to defend itself.
While for many, this malaise may last for two or three weeks, the information gathered so far shows that it can last even longer.
Different for each person
What is known so far is that COVID illness is different for each person. For some, it is fatal; for others, it is a mild infection; and for a third group, it can be an infection that leaves physical and psychological symptoms that persist long after the virus has left the body.
Each person’s vaccination status is, of course, a critical variable in preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19. But these “extra” symptoms are unpredictable, and they may end up occurring regardless. Who will suffer from these symptoms and who will not seems to be random.
Dozens of studies are collecting information from patients about these symptoms, to better understand why they occur and what they may mean in terms of prognosis and overall health.
CDC estimates indicate that, of individuals who have had COVID and have post-infection symptoms:
- 13% have these symptoms one month or longer after infection.
- 2.5% have symptoms after three months.
- More than 30% have symptoms after six months, among patients who were hospitalized.
Information on these long-lasting effects is being collected under a research program called Recover, which seeks to achieve a clinical framework to enhance recovery after COVID.
After being infected with the coronavirus, a range of symptoms can appear, some of which may simply disappear, while some may continue and develop into health problems.
The “long COVID” symptoms
- Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental exertion
Respiratory and cardiac symptoms
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Heart palpitations (rapid heart rate)
Difficulty thinking or concentrating (“brain fog”)
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness when you stand up
- Changes in smell or taste
- Stomach pain
- Muscle or joint pain
- Changes in menstrual cycles
People who have one or more of these symptoms often find that doctors do not have many explanations to give them. Clinical assessments and blood test results are normal, similar to those before infection. X-rays or EKGs are also normal. But it is still essential to consult with your family physician, a cardiologist, or another specialist on the condition.