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Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID)

For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or "long COVID".

About long COVID

How long it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everybody.

Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.

The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get COVID-19.

People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.

Symptoms of long COVID

There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection.

Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • 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
  • rashes

Non-urgent advice: Contact a GP if:

  • you're worried about symptoms 4 weeks or more after having COVID-19
Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during COVID-19

What happens at your appointment

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they're having on your life.

They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.

These might include:

  • blood tests
  • checking your blood pressure and heart rate
  • a chest X-ray

Treatment and support

Your doctor will talk to you about the care and support you might need.

You may be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home.

If the symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have.

These services can help manage your symptoms and help you recover.

Information:

You can find more information to support your recovery on the Your COVID Recovery website.

Page last reviewed: 16 September 2021
Next review due: 30 September 2021