Millions of Americans have recovered from COVID-19. But the term recovery is used loosely and does not account for the lingering or new symptoms many individuals are experiencing post-infection. COVID-19 is a new disease, and we are still discovering how it affects the body.
Understanding Post-COVID Long Term Symptoms
Individuals experiencing symptoms sometimes refer to themselves as “long haulers” because they are experiencing longer symptoms of COVID-19. During acute illness, COVID-19 can cause damage to organs throughout the body. This increases the risk of long-term health problems that individuals may continue to face months after the initial infection.
While the lungs are the first organs affected by COVID-19, we are learning that many organs beyond the lungs can be affected. Healthcare providers are reporting long-term impacts that may affect the heart, kidneys, skin and brain.
Older adults and people with underlying medical conditions are more likely to have lingering COVID-19 symptoms. However, even people who were not hospitalized and who had mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms long after the few weeks it takes most people to recover. Most commonly, these longer-term symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
There are other reported symptoms some individuals are experiencing including:
- Difficulty thinking and concentrating (brain fog)
- Depression and anxiety
- Muscle pain
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Intermittent fever
One of the most important parts of recovering from a severe illness is connecting with others in your shoes. Check out American Lung Association support groups and ask your healthcare team about other local groups in your area.
- Online Support Communities
The American Lung Association has online communities on Inspire.com for individuals Living with Lung Disease. Individuals register to join a community. Members can choose their level of participation and engagement. This online forum is a place for members to discuss how COVID-19 is affecting them.
- Better Breathers Club
Join the Better Breathers Club Network to discover new ways to cope with lung disease and provide support from others who share in your struggles. These virtual support groups give you the tools you need to live the best quality of life you can.
- Talk to an Expert
Talk to our trained lung health professionals at the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine. Our service is free and we are here to help you with your questions
Page last updated: January 28, 2021