Living with Chronic Pain

Coping Tips When COVID-19 Symptoms Linger


In most cases of COVID-19, symptoms improve within a week or two; however, in some cases, it takes significantly longer to return to health. Individuals who experience symptoms for months after their COVID-19 diagnosis are sometimes referred to as “long-haulers” or “long-termers.”

While lingering symptoms occur more frequently in older adults and those who become severely ill from the virus, they can develop in anyone at any age, even if only mild to moderate symptoms were present. They can also occur even when other chronic medical conditions are not an issue.

The most common long-lasting symptoms are cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. However, headaches, hair loss, vertigo, trouble concentrating, or brain fog may also be experienced.

Here are some tips to cope with long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Stay in touch with a medical professional. When symptoms linger, consult with a physician to determine the length of time isolation may be needed, how to safely interact with family and others once isolation ends, and how to best manage and treat lingering symptoms.
  • Stick to the basics. Similar to the treatment of other respiratory illnesses, it is important to prioritize health basics, such as staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, and eating well.
  • Identify any local monitoring and support groups. Many health networks are developing and monitoring support groups for long-haulers. These support groups typically include primary care physicians, pulmonologists, infectious disease specialists, and mental health professionals. COVID-19 support groups provide resources, information and support to cope with any lingering effects of the virus. Physicians can also identify worsening symptoms and ensure that necessary care is received.
  • Take care of mental health. In addition to physical symptoms, some long-haulers may also struggle with depression or anxiety. Working with a mental health professional can help.
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