Many would like to think that COVID-19 is far behind us. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and it’s not just due to the emergence of new COVID strains. Long COVID has been a challenge we’ve been dealing with since the beginning of the pandemic, and it continues to be a concern.
In this article, we’ll provide an overview of long COVID, including:
- What long COVID exactly is
- Long COVID symptoms
- How to avoid long COVID effects
Let’s get started
What Is Long COVID?
For most people, COVID symptoms will last between two and three weeks, but some will face them for longer periods, even months. This is what the World Health Organization (WHO) calls the post covid-19 condition, and is often referred to as long COVID. This condition can affect people of all ages, although there is a slight tendency for those aged 64 and older, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What Are Long COVID’s Symptoms?
What’s especially worrying about long-term COVID is its myriad of symptoms, including:
- Respiratory issues
- Heart complications
- Impaired taste and smell
- Neurologic symptoms
- General malaise
Let’s take a closer look at its many forms.
Breathing difficulties are perhaps the most common and recognizable symptom of long-term COVID. These breathing issues have a clear explanation: Like other respiratory diseases, COVID affects the lungs, leaving them scarred and reducing their capacity.
Fortunately, with time and breathing exercises, you can regain your pulmonary capacity.
A COVID-19 infection may also damage your heart. How? The reduced oxygen levels in your bloodstream can place added stress on it, leading to the formation of scar tissue.
And it’s not just senior citizens or people who experienced harsh COVID symptoms who are affected. Many professional athletes and people with mild symptoms ended up developing heart damage.
The main symptoms you might experience are:
- Breathing difficulties
- Fatigue, especially after physical activities
- Swelling of the neck, ankles, and legs
Impaired Taste and Smell
Despite not being particularly harmful, the loss of taste and smell is stressful as well as common. Usually, this loss of senses is the symptom that makes people realize they might have COVID, and it lasts a few weeks. But in some cases, it can last for up to a year while gradually improving. This occurs because COVID attacks the olfactory membrane, located inside your nasal cavity.
Many have experienced “brain fog” after dealing with COVID-19. This can be described as general dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and memory issues. If you have these symptoms, then you are not alone. Long COVID can manifest as mild neurologic symptoms like:
- “Brain Fog”
- Numbness in your extremities
Although their exact cause remains uncertain, these neurological problems typically resolve on their own over time.
Researchers haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but COVID and diabetes seem to be linked. Diabetes can not only increase the risk of severe COVID-19 but also be a possible consequence of the virus.
One study shows that if you’ve had COVID, you have higher chances of getting diabetes in the year after. In fact, researchers noted that the risk of diabetes increased with the severity of the virus, and almost all cases were type 2 diabetes.
Not all long COVID symptoms fall into a single category. After a COVID infection, you may also experience:
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- General joint pain
However, these symptoms are usually rare and quite mild.
How to Avoid COVID Complications
As we’ve seen, the symptoms of long COVID are many and can be worrying. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect cure for this condition. Nevertheless, experts recommend you to:
- Be fully vaccinated
- Get your booster shots
- Follow the appropriate COVID precautions
If you present any long COVID symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment can work wonders for a smooth transition after COVID.
The worst of the pandemic is over; COVID-19 is no longer an unknown virus with no vaccine in sight, and travel restrictions are mostly lifted. But the virus continues to impact communities worldwide, and its variants pose unpredictable challenges. In fact, the number of COVID cases in the US is progressively increasing.
This is why experts encourage regular testing. Ultimately, it’s the best way to:
- Combat the spread
- Protect yourself and others (especially those at risk of severe illness)
- Keep track of the virus and learn more about it
Need a COVID test? Whether you’re traveling abroad or just staying at home, find testing centers near you with our internal directory.