Talking Points About Long COVID

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Vaccination can protect you from long COVID

Long COVID defined

  • Long COVID is a condition in which COVID symptoms last for many weeks, months, or years.
  • Researchers estimate that millions of people have experienced long COVID.
  • Long COVID can be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act if it limits your ability to do certain things, such as take care of yourself, walk, interact with others, or work.

Symptoms of long COVID

  • People with long COVID can have a variety of symptoms. The symptoms can be ongoing or recurring—they can even be new symptoms.
  • Some symptoms may not seem clearly related to COVID, which can make long COVID hard to diagnose. 
  • Commonly reported symptoms include:
    • Feeling very tired
    • Cough
    • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
    • Aches and pains
    • Brain fog (trouble thinking or remembering things)
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Anxiety or depression
    • Loss of smell or change in taste
    • Fever
  • People with long COVID can also experience a worsening of their symptoms after physical effort (such as exercising, doing household chores, or even going to the grocery store) or mental effort (such as reading a book, driving a car, or being in a stressful situation). 
  • There is no test to diagnose long COVID. Instead, health care providers try to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms a patient is experiencing.

People more likely to get long COVID

  • Anyone who gets COVID can develop long COVID. 
  • Researchers are working to better understand why some people do and some people don’t get long COVID. 
  • So far, studies have found that the following people may be more likely than others to get long COVID:

Ensuring proper medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment for long COVID

  • If you think you may have long COVID: 
    • Keep a journal for 1–2 weeks about your daily activities and your symptoms, noting how bad they were and anything that made you feel better or worse. 
    • Use CDC's checklist to prepare for your appointment with your doctor or other health care provider.