Most people who had COVID-19 make a full recovery but some continue to experience symptoms after recovery. This is not only seen in patients who had severe disease but even those who had mild versions of the disease. This condition is known as post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long-COVID-19”. The more common symptoms include fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and joint pain. Some patients also report headache, muscle pain, a fast heartbeat, distorted smell -and taste as well as memory, concentration, and sleep problems.
COVID-19 can damage many organs, most commonly the lungs, heart and nervous system. It can also make one’s blood clot faster than usual which can affect the lungs, legs, liver and kidneys. Some patients may develop damage to blood vessels which can cause long-term liver- and kidney problems.
Patients with severe COVID-19 often require admission to the intensive care unit. Those who survive are at risk of developing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
There is a potential risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis. This is a complex disorder which leads to fatigue that worsens with activity but does not improve with rest.
We are still learning about how people will be affected by COVID-19 in the long-term. It is important that doctors closely monitor organ function in patients after recovery.
Most people who have COVID-19 will recover quickly but the potential long-term problems make it even more important to reduce the spread of the disease.