Understanding Long COVID: Symptoms and Treatments

Mar 06, 2024 | 3 Min Read

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Now a number of years on from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have forgotten just how severe an infection can be. Unfortunately, for those suffering with long COVID symptoms, it’s impossible to separate from their life today.


Medical professionals are still uncovering the ways in which long COVID can affect patients, and new studies and discoveries are being made all the time. But there are a number of common symptoms that you may recognise, and ways to treat and manage them as they affect your everyday life.

A 2023 paper estimates at least 65 million people living with long COVID worldwide, based on the estimate that around 10% of infected individuals expected to develop the condition. This number may actually be much higher, due to the high number of unreported cases of COVID around the world. As such, there may be many people living with symptoms of long COVID who don’t even realise that they have the condition. 


Long COVID can affect people of any age or background. It can be difficult to determine whether someone is suffering with the condition, as people can define a ‘long period’ differently. According to the HSE, long COVID is diagnosed when symptoms persist for more than 3 months post COVID-19 contraction, and the symptoms are present for more than 2 months (even if they come and go). For some people, their symptoms may disappear after a few months. For others, it may be a lifelong condition.

Long COVID symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, but some common ones include:

  • Extreme tiredness/ fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty focusing or remembering (‘brain fog’)
  • Changes in taste or loss of appetite
  • Persistent coughing up phlegm
  • Difficulty swallowing or voice changes
  • Trouble sleeping/ insomnia
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Dizziness/ vertigo

There is no one treatment or medication for long COVID. For most people, treatment will involve managing their symptoms to make their daily life as easy as possible. Depending on their symptoms, this means that their daily routine may change considerably.

Let’s take chronic fatigue for example, as it is one of the most common symptoms of long COVID. When someone suffers from fatigue, they may feel tired from tasks that used to be very easy for them – such as going for a short walk or doing the laundry. Their main priority should be conserving their energy where possible. This may involve:

  • Breaking tasks into manageable steps
  • Resting between tasks
  • Gradually increasing activity levels
  • Starting to take naps during the day
  • Using a seat in the shower to avoid getting out of breath

With any symptom of long-COVID, the most important thing is to create a routine of self-care. This means:

  • Balanced nutrition
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Gentle exercise 
  • Getting good sleep
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Staying in contact with friends and family

Remember, that no matter what stage of your long COVID journey you may be at, it’s important to take things slow. Know your limits and remember that your body is recovering from a significant change and will need time to recover. With proper management of symptoms, patients with long COVID can live very normal and happy lives. 

If you require assistance, expats who have international health insurance with Allianz Partners will have access to our Expat Assistance Programme that offers 24/7 confidential professional counselling - available face-to-face or via phone, video, email and online chat.
If you are a member and have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this article please contact our helpline today to find assistance.