For most of us, Covid-19 is not a serious illness. Symptoms, if any, usually come and go within two weeks.
But for some, the coronavirus can cause serious symptoms that endure for many months. This is known as ‘long Covid’ or post-Covid-19 syndrome.
While we may all have different experiences, the good news is that long Covid generally doesn’t last longer than 12 weeks, with most people making a full recovery – but it can sometimes last longer and have serious medical implications.
What is the difference between Covid-19 and long Covid?
Long Covid isn’t a different strain of the virus. It is simply the long-term effect of catching Covid-19. Interestingly, there is little evidence to link the seriousness of Covid-19 with long Covid – even those with the mildest symptoms can have long-term symptoms.
Early research suggests that one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 have symptoms that last five weeks or more, while one in 10 people have symptoms that last 12 weeks or more.
Is long Covid contagious?
No. The symptoms experienced during long Covid are your body’s response to the initial illness. Official guidance states that you should self-isolate for 10 days from your original symptoms or positive test, or if after 10 days you still have a temperature, but after that the virus is dead and even if you feel unwell after that you are no longer infectious.
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What are the symptoms of long Covid?
According to NHS England, the symptoms of long Covid can differ from the symptoms we are commonly told to look out for. (That is, a continuous cough, a fever or a loss of taste or smell.)
The most common long Covid symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration
- difficulty sleeping
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
How is long Covid treated?
This depends on how the long Covid symptoms are impacting your life. You may be prescribed medication or referred to a specialist long Covid clinic. In most cases, time, rest and over-the-counter medication will suffice.
For help and advice with related healthcare matters, please get in touch with our expert GP team today.