“Long COVID” refers to the many symptoms that develop because of COVID-19, and last for weeks and months after first being infected by COVID-19. It’s also known as “post-COVID conditions,” “long-haul COVID,” “long-term effects of COVID,” or “chronic COVID.” These symptoms include lingering fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste.
Those with mild COVID-19 infections typically recover from long COVID after a couple of weeks. In people with more severe COVID-19 infections, long COVID symptoms usually last months after the initial infection, even after the virus is gone from the body.
Symptoms of long COVID
According to two studies, one from Oxford University and one from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three people will experience “long COVID” after being infected with COVID-19.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Joint pains
- Loss of smell and taste
- Poor sleep
Some patients can develop severe disabilities from their difficulty breathing due to long COVID, and as of July 2021, the U.S. considers long COVID a disability.
In addition to physical symptoms, long COVID can also include psychological or cognitive symptoms. A U.K. study of 100 patients who recovered from being hospitalized with COVID-19 showed 24% of patients developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 18% had new memory issues, and 16% had new concentration problems. These rates were also worse in patients who stayed in the intensive care unit (ICU).
How can you prevent long COVID?
The best way to treat long COVID is to prevent a COVID-19 infection from happening at all. The best ways to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 includes:
- Staying six feet away from anyone who is not in your household
- Wearing a mask in public
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Getting vaccinated
In general, long COVID symptoms are treated with medicine and physical therapy. For example, long COVID treatments include cough suppressant medication, supplemental oxygen, and over-the-counter pain medication. For people who now have disabilities because of COVID-19, rehabilitation includes physical and occupational therapy.
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Viet Fact Check has partnered with a number of community and health organizations to educate the Vietnamese-American community on the COVID-19 vaccine. The project is supported by: Progressive Vietnamese American Organization (PIVOT), Asian Health Services (AHS), the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Union of North American Vietnamese American Students (UNAVSA), Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Asian American Research Center on Health (ARCH) and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO).