What are the long-term effects of COVID?

Doctors are still learning about the long-term effects of getting COVID. These effects are called by different names, including: long or long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID, and chronic COVID.  Researchers are still working on a consistent set of criteria for this condition, called a case definition. But so far, research shows that around 25-30% of people who get COVID still have some symptoms several months later.

There are two types of lasting effects. The first are symptoms of COVID that can last a long time, even if the illness was mild. These symptoms can include: fatigue, shortness of breath, trouble thinking or “brain fog”, pounding or fast beating heart, lightheadedness, and worsening of symptoms after exercise, among others. 

The second type of lasting effects are symptoms that come from the impact of having a severe case of COVID. People who have had lung or heart damage, for example, may take months to recover. Or the damage may last the rest of their lives. COVID infection can also worsen other medical conditions and those symptoms may last for a long time.  

Finally, the mental and physical toll that the pandemic has had on people including depression, isolation, loss of work, and other challenges can have physical effects.

Last update: Sept 9. 2021, 06:51pm ET

Science review: JAB, HAY