Long COVID, also known as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to a range of symptoms that persist for weeks or even years after the acute phase of the COVID-19 infection has resolved. But what are the symptoms of Long COVID?
Here we look at some of the over 200 symptoms that can potentially occur with Long COVID, paying close attention to the 12 most common symptom types we see in Long COVID patients.
Understanding Long COVID
Long COVID is a multisystemic illness that can affect individuals of all ages, including children. It’s not limited to those who had severe COVID-19; even people with mild or asymptomatic initial infections can develop Long COVID. The National Institutes of Health’s RECOVER initiative has been instrumental in studying this condition, and recent findings have helped define the most common symptoms.
The Top 12 Symptoms of Long COVID
A recent study identified 37 different symptoms associated with Long COVID while initial studies identified over 200 unique symptoms. However, 12 symptoms stood out as the most common among patients. These include:
- Post-exertional malaise: This is a worsening of other symptoms after physical or mental exertion. It’s not just general tiredness; it’s a severe crash or collapse after doing more than your body can handle.
- Fatigue: This is more than just feeling tired. It’s an overwhelming lack of energy that doesn’t improve with rest.
- Cognitive dysfunction: Often referred to as “brain fog,” this involves difficulties with memory, attention, and concentration.
- Sensorimotor symptoms: These include a variety of sensory and motor disturbances, such as tremors, poor coordination, and balance problems.
- Sleep disturbances: Insomnia, sleep apnea, and other sleep-related issues are common.
- Autonomic symptoms: These involve the body’s automatic functions, like heart rate and blood pressure, leading to symptoms such as lightheadedness and rapid heartbeat.
- Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing: This can occur even with mild exertion or at rest.
- Headache: Persistent or recurrent headaches are common.
- Anosmia or loss of smell: This is a well-known symptom of acute COVID-19, but it can persist in those with Long COVID.
- Thirst: An increased need to drink fluids.
- Chronic cough: A persistent cough that doesn’t go away.
- Chest pain: This can range from a sharp, stabbing pain to a dull ache.
It’s important to note that individuals with Long COVID may experience many of these symptoms simultaneously, and the severity and duration of symptoms can vary widely from person to person.
Long COVID is a complex and multifaceted condition that continues to be the subject of extensive research. Understanding its symptoms is a crucial step toward developing effective treatments and supporting those living with this challenging condition. If you’ve had COVID-19 and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice. Remember, you’re not alone, and help is available.
The team at RTHM is on the front lines when it comes to Long COVID and Complex Illness Care. Because much is still unknown when it comes to Long COVID and other complex conditions, such as ME/CFS, RTHM takes an active role in contributing and monitoring active medical research on these conditions, bringing this continual knowledge to their treatment plans.
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