What Is Long COVID & Does Everyone Get It?
Most people who experience a COVID-19 infection recover within 14 days, but a sizable number experience symptoms that can be debilitating for a long period of time – often weeks or months – after their initial infection has cleared up. This condition is known as long COVID. Let’s go over what’s known about long COVID and find out whether everyone is at risk of developing it.
What Is Long COVID?
Long COVID refers to a suite of symptoms that occur after the initial COVID infection has gone. These symptoms remain for weeks or months after recovery from an initial infection. The list of symptoms is long and wide-ranging. Some people who are suffering from long COVID experience only one or a few, while others experience most or all of the symptoms associated with long COVID.
Does Everyone Get Long COVID?
Not everybody who contracts COVID-19 also gets long COVID. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 35% of patients who had mild COVID-19 had not returned to baseline health 14 to 21 days after their symptoms began. The same survey found that 20% of previously healthy 18-to-34-year-olds were not back to baseline health three weeks after symptoms began.
Other research suggests that long COVID symptoms persist in 30% of patients 30 to 45 days after initial diagnosis. It seems that overall, about one third of people who get COVID end up suffering with long COVID symptoms.
What Causes Long COVID?
It is not known what causes long COVID. The condition affects people of all ages and fitness levels, and those who have had both severe and mild COVID. Research is now suggesting various factors that might increase someone's risk of getting long COVID. These factors include existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma, low levels of various antibodies, and reactivated viruses in the bloodstream.
Can You Get Long COVID If Vaccinated?
People who have been vaccinated can get long COVID. Millions of people around the world who have been vaccinated once, twice, and even boosted have contracted COVID-19. Many of these people who have been fully vaccinated are experiencing symptoms that last weeks or months.
How Do I Know If I Have Long COVID?
You can only really know if you have long COVID if you experience some of the typical symptoms. People of all ages are reporting the condition, and long COVID symptoms can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, whether their initial infection was severe or mild, and even if they had no symptoms. Long COVID can appear several months after the initial infection clears, or it can linger chronically from the time when the initial infection clears.
What Are The Long Haul COVID-19 Symptoms?
Long haul COVID-19 sufferers experience one or more of a wide range of symptoms, which can arrive days, weeks, or months after the initial infection. Long COVID symptoms can last for many months.
The most commonly reported long COVID symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities (also known as post-exertional malaise)
- Brain fog – difficulty thinking or concentrating that can last up to eight months
- Chest or stomach pain
- Heart palpitations
- Joint or muscle pain
- Pins and needles
- Sleep problems
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Mood changes
- Change in smell or taste
- Changes in menstrual period cycles
What Risk Factors May Make You More Likely To Experience Long COVID?
Who typically gets long COVID? This question is currently very difficult to answer. It seems that anybody who gets an initial COVID-19 infection is susceptible to getting long COVID:
- People of any age – child, adult, or elderly
- People of any health and fitness level
- People who have had a severe, mild, or even symptomless initial COVID-19 infection
Can Children Get Long COVID?
Yes, children can get long COVID. Research suggests that up to 8% of children who have even mild COVID infections experience some persistent symptoms for up to eight weeks. This research also found that all symptoms had gone after six months.
Is Long COVID Considered A Disability?
Yes, long COVID can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A person with long COVID will qualify as disabled under the ADA if their condition and its symptoms cause physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Is There A Cure For Long COVID?
There is no direct cure for long COVID. As with any health condition, a healthy lifestyle will provide your body with the best ammunition to fight disease. Research suggests that regular exercise might alleviate the symptoms of depression and diabetes that are related to long COVID. As well as this, eating a healthy diet, sleeping well, and getting plenty of rest will give you the best chance of getting over long COVID as quickly as possible.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Protect Against Long COVID
There seems to be little a person can do to stop themselves from getting long COVID once they contract the COVID-19 virus. Long COVID affects adults and children, fit and healthy people, people with pre-existing medical conditions, and people who have had either mild or severe initial infections. This suggests that the best way to protect against getting long COVID is to try to avoid contracting the disease in the first place.