Some people can take a long time to recover from COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are learning more and more every day about the effects of the virus. For most patients, mild cases of COVID-19 last about 1-2 weeks. But there are some people reporting that their symptoms are lasting several weeks, or even months. These patients are being referred to as “long haulers”.

For these patients, the most common symptom after COVID-19 infection is fatigue. Many report continuing joint pain, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. One study of post-hospitalized patients found that almost 90% of them had at least one remaining symptom 2 months after they were discharged from the hospital.

But even patients with mild disease may have persistent symptoms. Although there is not yet much research on this, there are an increasing number of news reports of people who continue to experience fatigue, shortness of breath, fever, cough, or gastrointestinal symptoms. This can have a profound effect on daily life, as well as mental health.

As of now, we don’t yet have a clear answer on important questions, like why certain people can take so long to recover or what the long-term effects of COVID might be. As time goes on, we will have better data to answer these questions.


Last update: July 24, 2020, 2:20 pm ET

Science review: ERS