Updated 6 September 2021
Long COVID is the name given to the symptoms experienced by people after the initial COVID-19 infection. You might also hear it called post-COVID syndrome, long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID syndrome (PACS), chronic COVID, or post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).
Common Long COVID-19 symptoms Can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Low mood
- Difficulty concentrating (‘brain fog’)
- Chest pain
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Persistent loss of sense of smell or taste
- Fast-beating or pounding heart
Additional symptoms can be viewed in a handy image here.
Researchers have reported Long COVID worldwide, and we are also seeing people experiencing Long COVID in New Zealand.
Some people appear to experience more serious long-term complications of COVID-19, although these are not as common.
Even people who had a mild case of COVID-19 are experiencing Long COVID 12 or more months after the acute illness. Research is emerging suggesting that Long COVID is more likely in those who have many other health conditions, and are female.
As Long COVID is still new, scientists and health professionals are still working out the best ways to manage and treat it. Currently, they are figuring out the best rehabilitation methods for those with Long COVID. In Scotland, Ireland, and the U.S. there have been announcements for large funds dedicated to Long COVID patient research and rehabilitation. In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has recently funded research on Long COVID.
The lack of information about Long COVID can be frustrating for people experiencing it. Remember you are not alone; there are people all around the world experiencing Long COVID. Tips and advice can be found in the Resources Lists below. There are online groups established for people with Long COVID where you can get support and meet others experiencing this condition:
For support around the management and treatment of your Long COVID symptoms, please seek the help of your G.P. or health care team. It is essential to contact your G.P. if you develop any new or worsening symptoms such as:
- Swelling of a leg or arm.
- Losing more weight.
- A fast-beating or a racing heart.
- Muscle aches
Dial 111 or seek urgent medical care if you:
- Are coughing up blood.
- Have severe chest pain.
- Are getting more breathless.
Remember if you need someone to talk to you can free call or text 1737 any time of the day or night to speak with a trained counsellor.
Because of the lack of clarity around the symptoms and experiences of Long COVID some patients may find it useful to keep track of their symptoms. Tracking (or keeping a log) of your symptoms can help better understand your symptoms, identify which symptoms impact you most, and identify patterns and changes in your symptoms.
You may also find it useful to take this to your appointments with your healthcare professionals when discussing your Long COVID symptoms. There are apps you can download for this purpose. If you prefer a paper version, an example can be found here.
There are preliminary reports from the U.S and the U.K that Long COVID patients are experiencing improved symptoms after their second vaccine shot. However, so far there are no peer reviewed studies on the impact of vaccines on Long COVID and therefore these reports should be interpreted with caution. Scientists are urgently calling for studies in this area.
Internationally efforts are underway to understand why Long COVID develops and how best to manage or treat it. This page will be updated as new evidence becomes available.
For more information about Long COVID, please see the resource list below or go to Information for G.P.s and other health professionals.
The Silent Pandemic - Video
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The information on this page was prepared by multi-disciplinary health professionals at the National Institute for Health Innovation and affiliates and was originally created on 9 December 2020.