April 2, 2024 | 2 Min Read

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If you have recovered from COVID-19 but are still experiencing certain symptoms, you could have “long haul COVID", “post-COVID syndrome” or as it’s more commonly known, “long COVID”. The World Health Organisation defines long Covid as symptoms that start (usually) within three months of having Covid, last for at least two months, and can’t be explained by another condition. Symptoms can fluctuate or relapse over time. 

Why some people who contract COVID-19 continue to grapple with a range of post-viral symptoms months after infection is not yet known. For many though, long covid severely impacts their lives, often leaving them unable to cope with work or enjoy everyday activities.

People with Long COVID can have a wide range of symptoms that can last weeks, months, or even years after infection. They may experience health problems from different types and combinations of symptoms that may emerge, persist, resolve, and re-emerge over different lengths of time. 

Long COVID has up to 200 reported symptoms, but in general the most common symptoms are shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction or "brain fog", muscle aches as well as persistent fatigue.

However, there are many other symptoms of long Covid that have been identified through research. They include:

Heart symptoms

  • chest tightness or pain
  • heart palpitations

Joint and muscle pain

  • muscle and join paint
  • pain in the back or shoulders

Brain (neurological or cognitive) symptoms

  • problems with memory and thinking (brain fog)
  • headaches
  • amnesia
  • dizziness
  • difficulty with motor function or speech
  • pins and needles or numbness

Mental health effects

  • anxiety
  • depression 
  • problems sleeping (insomnia)

Respiratory symptoms

  • persistent cough
  • sore throat
  • difficulty breathing

Stomach and digestive symptoms

  • stomach aches
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick
  • loss of appetite, weight loss

Ear, nose and throat symptoms

  • changes to sense of smell or taste
  • tinnitus, earaches

General symptoms

  • nausea
  • a high temperature
  • intermittent fevers 

Skin and hair symptoms

  • hair loss
  • skin rashes

You may be diagnosed with long COVID if your symptoms:

  • continue 3 months after you were infected with COVID-19
  • are present for at least 2 months - symptoms can come and go
  • have an impact on your day-to-day life

In the same way the virus can sometimes cause serious illness in young, otherwise healthy individuals, lingering symptoms appear to affect people of all ages, including those with no underlying health conditions.

The risk of persistent symptoms isn’t limited to those who experience severe illness when they're first infected. People who are asymptomatic or have a mild case of COVID-19 can also face prolonged illness or long-term side effects. Sometimes, these symptoms take weeks or months to appear. It seems that anyone, including young people and those with no pre-existing health conditions, can develop long COVID. 

While there isn’t one single treatment or medication that's used to treat the overall condition of long Covid, there are treatments that may help to relieve some of the symptoms. If you are experiencing new or persistent symptoms following recovery from COVID-19, it’s important to talk to your doctor, who can assess your symptoms and, if needed, perform diagnostic tests to check for complications. Your doctor can also help to monitor and manage your symptoms over time.

Protection from long COVID means protecting yourself and others from infection in the first place. According to the World Health Organisation, long-covid "remains a complex condition we still know very little about" and they recommend a number of simple, proven measures to help protect yourself:

  • Taking up offers of COVID-19 vaccines/boosters
  • Wearing well-fitted masks when suffering a respiratory infection and while traveling
  • Cleaning hands regularly
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Ensuring indoor spaces are well ventilated.
At Allianz Care, our mission is to keep you well. Whether you need help, advice or support, our Helpline is here for you 24/7. Contact us today.