While the majority of people infected with COVID-19 make a full recovery within weeks, others experience manifestations of the virus for months on end—some whose initial infections are considered moderate or even mild. Researchers have dubbed these people “long haulers” and their condition, “long COVID” or “post-COVID syndrome.” “Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection,” explains the Mayo Clinic. They also list many of the common signs and symptoms likely to linger long past the virus itself. Read on to find out what they are—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fatigue is one of the trademark symptoms long haulers suffer from. Unlike the tired you are used to, long hauler fatigue is generally described as “crushing,” and is so extreme that those who experience it struggle to return to work or even get out of bed.
Shortness of breath is one of the defining symptoms of COVID-19. According to the Mayo Clinic, this respiratory complication lingers for many long haulers. In another article the Mayo Clinic explains that COVID-related pneumonia can permanently damage the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. “The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems,” they explain.
A dry cough is one of the primary COVID-19 symptoms. And, it is also one that long haulers report for months after an infection. According to the American Lung Association this could be a result of permanent damage to the lungs, which may in turn affect the ability of the body to function normally. On the flip side, they do point out that some long haulers experience symptoms such as a dry cough, “without apparent damage to vital organs.”
The Mayo Clinic explains that joint pain often arises as a result of inflammation. And, from what we know about COVID-19, inflammation is a common manifestation of the virus.
COVID-19 impacts the lungs and respiratory system, and according to some long haulers, continues to long after their initial infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, sudden, sharp chest pains—aka pleurisy—may indicate an inflammation of the lung walls.
Achy muscles can be a sign that you are battling an infection—or even one that your body already has. As for headaches, according to one case report, one woman suffered from a post COVID headache for months after her initial infection. “New daily persistent headache (NDPH) is another chronic headache that can be triggered by viral diseases,” the researchers of the report explained.
Heart palpitations are “feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart,” explains the Mayo Clinic. “Stress, exercise, medication or, rarely, a medical condition can trigger them.” One study published in JAMA Cardiology found that 78 percent of recovered COVID-19 patients reported “cardiac involvement,” while 60% had ongoing myocardial inflammation. And, even those who initially suffered from mild to moderate infections, reported ongoing heart issues, including palpitations.
Loss of sense of smell or taste is one of the first symptoms reported by those who suffer from a COVID infection. Unfortunately, many long haulers report that after the virus is gone, the senses fail to return for many months.
Since COVID-19 impacts the neurological system, memory issues, sleep complications, and concentration troubles often plague long haulers.
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Rash and hair loss are other manifestations that linger for long haulers. One of the most peculiar symptoms of long term COVID is pernio/chilblains, a redness and swelling of the feet and hands, which has come to be commonly known as “COVID toes.” Others, including celebrity Alyssa Milano, report extensive hair loss.
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a medical professional. There is no cure for Long COVID but experts can help you relieve certain symptoms. And follow the simple public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.