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Long-Haul COVID-19

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Long-Haul COVID-19

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Some people experience prolonged symptoms and long brain fog after recovering from COVID-19. Read this article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sugreev Singh

Published At April 16, 2021
Reviewed AtMarch 21, 2023

What Is Long-Haul COVID-19?

We might feel that a negative result of the COVID-19 test depicts the absence of infection. The majority of the long-haulers test negative for COVID-19 even though they have specific symptoms.

Generally, people fall under two categories. Most patients with COVID-19 have milder reactions that usually cure within two weeks. Some patients have severe reactions that might take more than six weeks to recover. It is very puzzling to note that some people have a prolonged duration of symptoms that persists for more than two or three months after the infection. There is no consistent cause for this occurrence of symptoms. This unpredictable group of people is referred to as long-haulers. These long-haulers have a mixture of both mild and severe symptoms. It is not specific for any age group, but it is particularly noted in people who have a previous history of chronic conditions. It is also impossible for doctors at this stage to predict the average duration of these long-haul symptoms. People who are long-haulers are less contagious to spread the infection actively.

What Are the Long-Haul Symptoms of COVID-19?

The long-haul symptoms of COVID-19 reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:

The other long-term symptoms are:

  • Muscle pain.

  • Depression.

  • Intermittent fever.

  • Headache.

  • Pounding heart.

Does Brain Fog Happen in Long-Haul Symptoms?

Brain fog refers to neurological symptoms that affect the nervous system and the brain. Problematic brain fog is a commonly reported long-haul symptom of COVID-19. Brain fog is not a proper medical condition. It is a term that represents the following symptoms:

  • Lack of mental clarity.

  • Memory problems.

  • Headaches.

  • Poor concentration.

  • Confusion.

People who suffer from brain fog lack proper sleep and experience higher levels of stress. Both psychological and physiological alterations cause this brain fog. The infectious particles produced by Coronavirus penetrate the brain and interrupt the communication between the neurons in the brain. As a result, there is an inflammation in the brain that might end up in impairment of cognitive functions. There are also other ways where COVID-19 indirectly leads to the symptoms of brain fog. They are:

  • Feelings of loneliness.

  • Poor sleep quality.

  • Increased stress or anxiety.

  • Depression.

  • Decreased physical activity.

  • Dietary changes.

  • Side effects of certain medications.

The exact duration of brain fog has not been identified yet. The medical reports suggest that the symptoms can last up to a few months in patients even after the recovery from the respiratory symptoms. In 2020, a particular study established that 28 percent of the patients had a problem in concentration for more than 100 days after they were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. Another study shows that 55 percent of the patients had continuous neurological problems even after three months of their recovery from illness. The neurological symptoms included fatigue, visual disturbances, headache, and mood changes. A recent study done by Harvard medical school has recorded 22 % to 32 % of their patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to still suffer from brain fog.

Brain fog can be overcome by implementing healthy lifestyle habits during the COVID-19 season.

  • People are advised to perform regular exercises. Make sure these exercises are beneficial for the lungs and heart. It is also a good idea to do an exercise that could enhance your brain function.

  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol consumption. Alcohol and tobacco products can increase the inflammatory condition of the brain. So it is recommended to refrain from these.

  • Have a sound sleep. Peaceful sleeping can help you recover from the brain fog with the help of the body’s reparative mechanism.

  • Eat a balanced diet. Having a healthy and balanced diet can help in refreshing your body by providing proper nourishment.

How to Overcome the Long-Haul Symptoms of COVID-19?

Curing the long-haul symptoms of COVID-19 is a real challenge for doctors because clear details are not obtained for these long-haul symptoms. These long-haul symptoms can present themselves in various ways so doctors are struggling to get a uniform treatment approach. Initially, doctors will identify whether the patient has any pathological conditions. On such examinations, if the patient is identified to have inflammation in the lungs, then the patient will be treated with the help of an inhaler. If the patient experiences any discomfort in the chest, then the patient will be suggested anti-inflammatory drugs.

After ruling out the causes of the patient’s symptoms, support will be provided by the medical team. Both physical and psychological help will be provided to the patient as the person who suffers may or may not have the same effects of COVID-19.

Long-haulers are not in a life-threatening state because they have already overcome the active COVID-19 infection. However, the existence of long-term symptoms can be annoying to patients. The patient requires strong emotional support and a positive mentality for overcoming the long-term effects. One of the saddest news is that many people are expected to face the long-haul effects of COVID-19. In such cases, the world is expected to face a health crisis even after the struggles of the pandemic. Precautionary measures can be taken by testing the patient for respiratory, neurological, cardiovascular, behavioral, and pulmonary health. If any abnormalities are detected even after the recovery, the patient should look forward to medical care as a protection measure. In addition to this, patients should be instructed to stay hydrated well and get adequate sleep. Stress management strategies should be taught to the patients.

The long-haulers can still get the COVID-19 vaccinations irrespective of whether they are facing symptoms or not. Before receiving the vaccine, they have to perform a COVID-19 test again. If any of the people show positive for the COVID-19 test, then it is necessary to wait for another ten days before receiving the vaccine.

When Does a Person Need Medical Attention?

You need medical attention when you experience the following problems:

  • Lung function abnormalities.

  • Inflammation of the heart muscle.

  • Rash and hair loss.

  • Acute kidney injury.

  • Memory problems.

  • Smell and taste problems.

  • Changes in mood.

  • Anxiety.

  • Bluish nails.

How Do Doctors Treat and Manage Coronavirus Long-Haulers?

Most long-haulers tend to fall in the high-risk groups, but a growing percentage of people who were otherwise healthy before also became infected. This group of patients is given streamlined care by many health systems. They should get tested involving pulmonary, behavioral, cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological health. A care path and treatment are recommended, and a group of healthcare providers will monitor the patients moving forward. Also, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, focus on sleep, take rest, manage stress, and eat well.

The health care providers will identify the symptoms that worsen and help them to get the right level of care. Also, depression and anxiety are the big issues for these long-haulers, so frequent checking on how they are doing is another essential aspect of the monitoring program.

In addition, COVID vaccines should not be withheld from those with a prior infection of COVID-19 unless they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. When tested positive for the virus, wait for 10 days or until there are no symptoms to receive the vaccine.

Call a doctor online for more help.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Can COVID-19 Symptoms Last?

The COVID-19 symptoms are various. The duration of COVID-19 depends on the extent and severity of the infection. Usually, symptoms of mild infection may last for a few weeks. In severe cases of COVID-19 infection, symptoms may last a few months to years. These are called long COVID symptoms.


When Do COVID Long-Haul Symptoms Start?

The symptoms like loss of taste and smell, coughing, and body pain may last a few weeks. In severe cases, symptoms may last for 12 weeks also. But in some cases, symptoms persist after COVID - 19  has been cured. If the symptoms persist for two months after COVID infection, it is called long COVID. Usually, the symptoms of long COVID start within three months of COVID infection.


Is Long COVID and Long-Haul COVID the Same?

Yes, long COVID and long-haul COVID are similar conditions. In this case, the symptoms of COVID-19 infections last longer than two months. The affected persons are called long haulers. These symptoms include breathing problems and chest pain, body pain and skin problems.


How Do You Recover From a Long COVID?

Long covid is a multifactorial entity. Persons may complain of symptoms like chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and skin problems. Physical exercise healthy lifestyle can help cure these problems. Sometimes doctors prescribe drugs like immuno-modulators in such cases.


Are COVID Long Haulers Contagious?

No, COVID long haulers are not contagious. The symptoms of long COVID persist because of the systemic changes caused by COVID infections. But the viral presence in the body of the patient is negative.


Do COVID Long Haulers Always Test Positive?

No, COVID long haulers dont test positive for covid infections. Symptoms of long COVID appear after COVID infection has been cured due to systemic changes. People suffering from long COVID infection do not test positive for COVID.


Should I Be Worried About the Long-Term Effects of COVID?

Long-term effects of COVID include chest infection, decreased lung functionality, cardiac problems, digestive disorders, hair fall, and skin problems. These disorders are not fatal. But these can create health issues. One should maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid long COVID symptoms  Physical exercise and medical advice can help reduce the effects of long COVID.


How to Treat Chronic Fatigue After COVID?

Various factors like breathing disorders, lung problems, and muscle pain cause chronic fatigue during COVID. Such problems can be treated with a healthy lifestyle, breathing exercises, and physical exercises. Physiotherapy and medication can also be helpful in such cases.


What Organs Does Long COVID Affect?

Long Covid is a multifactorial with several factors, like organ damage, changes in immune pathways, and altered inflammatory response are responsible for this. Organs like lungs, heart, muscles, and skin are affected by long COVID. Neurological disorders like brain fog and peripheral neuropathy have also been observed.


How Long Does Long COVID Last?

The symptoms of long COVID may last a few weeks to a few months. The severity of the long COVID depends upon the severity of the infection, immunity status of the patient, hospitalization status, and lifestyle. On average, symptoms may last for a few months.


Can Long Haul COVID Cause Extreme Fatigue?

Yes, COVID long haul can cause extreme fatigue. Long COVID is caused by breathing, lung, cardiac, and digestive disorders. Due to these, people experience shortness of breath, muscle and joint pains. These factors also contribute to extreme fatigue.


How Is Long COVID Diagnosed?

No diagnostic tests are available for long COVID. The diagnosis of long COVID is purely based on symptoms. If the symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations, skin rash, and brain fog appear within 12 weeks of COVID infection. It is called long COVID.


How Do I Stop COVID Coughing?

Severe lung infections can cause COVID coughing. In such cases, treatment for lung infection is done coupled with warm stream inhalation, and steroid inhalers can be used. But in some cases coughing can be caused by noninflammatory conditions. Such cases are treated using neuromodulators.


What Does COVID Chest Pain Feel Like?

Lung problems and heart problems cause chest pain in long COVID. Patients of ten complain of heaviness in the chest, palpitation, and increased heart rate. Shortness of breath, and tightness of breath are also observed in some cases.
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Dr. Lochana .k
Dr. Lochana .k



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