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Persistent Unwellness Following Acute COVID-19

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Persistent unwellness following acute COVID-19 infection has been reported in individuals weeks and months after recovering from the infection.

Written by

Dr. Asna Fatma

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

Published At May 10, 2023
Reviewed AtSeptember 4, 2023


The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw the first reports of some people exhibiting chronic symptoms weeks or months after contracting the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) virus while recovering from the acute illness. While knowledge of COVID-19's acute phase is still expanding, there is little knowledge of the disease's long-term effects. This article discusses persistent unwellness following acute COVID-19 infection, its symptoms, and prognosis.

What Is Persistent Unwellness Following Acute COVID-19?

Some individuals affected by the COVID-19 infection experience long-term effects of the conditions and have persistent unwellness after the infection. This condition is known as post-COVID conditions or long COVID. Persistent unwellness after COVID can include a variety of long-term health problems. This persistent unwellness can manifest for weeks, months, and even years after recovering from COVID infection.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 3.92 billion people will have contracted SARS-CoV-2 by the end of 2021, and 144.7 million will have experienced post-COVID-19 conditions, with roughly 22 million still experiencing persistent symptoms 12 months after infection. The underlying etiology, prevalence, and risk factors of COVID-19 remain uncertain, even though persistent symptoms, complications, and sequelae, including respiratory, cardiac, neurological, and physical consequences, have been reported more frequently globally.

What Are the Symptoms of Persistent Unwellness Following Acute COVID-19?

After contracting COVID, people who experience prolonged unwellness may experience various symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. These symptoms may subside on their own or return. Some commonly reported symptoms are given below.

General Symptoms:

  • Unusual tiredness and fatigue that continues for a long time.

  • Post-exertional malaise.

  • Fever or pyrexia.

  • Rashes.

  • Joint pain.

  • Muscle pain.

Respiratory Symptoms:

Cardiac Symptoms:

  • Pain in the chest.

  • Heart palpitations.

  • Increased heart rate.

Neurological Symptoms:

  • Headaches.

  • Brain fog or difficulty in concentrating.

  • Sleep issues.

  • Lightheadedness.

  • Altered smell and taste.

  • Depression.

  • Anxiety.

Digestive Symptoms:

Other Symptoms:

  • Altered menstrual cycles.

  • Severe hair fall.

Who Is More Likely to Develop Persistent Unwellness Following Acute COVID-19?

Research has shown that certain groups of people may be more prone to developing persistent symptoms after recovering from acute COVID infection. Experts attempt to determine which individuals or populations are more susceptible to these symptoms and why. Following are the examples of people who have been frequently reported to have persistent unwellness after acute COVID-19 infection:

  • Individuals with more severe COVID-19 symptoms, particularly those who required hospitalization or specialized care (admitted to ICU or intensive care unit).

  • Individuals with comorbidities or other underlying health conditions before contracting COVID.

  • Individuals who were not vaccinated against the COVID infection.

  • Individuals who develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) when unwell with COVID-19 or shortly afterward.

  • Some people have a higher chance of contracting COVID-19 due to their place of residence or employment or lack of healthcare access. Some members of racial or ethnic groups and some individuals with disabilities may be more susceptible to acquiring post-COVID problems due to health disparities.

How to Prevent Persistent Unwellness Following Acute COVID-19?

The primary way to prevent persistent unwellness post-COVID is to protect yourself and other individuals from getting infected by the virus in the first place. The following steps can be taken to prevent contracting COVID and its prolonged symptoms:

  • Getting vaccinated.

  • Practicing social distancing.

  • Taking precautions like wearing a mask and avoiding touching.

  • Improving ventilation.

  • Getting tested for COVID, if required.

  • Getting treatment for COVID, if required.

  • Practicing hand hygiene.

What Is the Prognosis of Persistent Unwellness Following Acute COVID-19?

Persistent unwellness following acute COVID infection is challenging for both the doctor and the patient. It can be difficult to live with a post-COVID condition, particularly when there are no simple solutions. However, those who continue to feel sick following COVID can get advice from a healthcare professional to develop a unique medical management strategy to help them control their symptoms and improve their quality of life. With proper support and medical care, symptoms of persistent unwellness following acute COVID infection can be managed and controlled.


Persistent unwellness after acute COVID infection has been reported in many people affected by the pandemic. These symptoms of persistent unwellness can continue to manifest for weeks, months, or even years after recovering from the initial infection. However, with proper care and medical aid, these symptoms of persistent unwellness can be managed. It is important to consult an expert when symptoms of persistent unwellness are experienced or persist.

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Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha
Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha

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