Lasting Symptoms After Covid: Why Am I Still Sick?
It is very common for people to experience symptoms after covid.
Some vaccines are known to make symptoms after covid worse.
The condition of having symptoms after being cured of covid is called long covid.
Many people who fell victim to COVID-19 didn't get better overnight. Many of us are still experiencing long-term side effects of covid. 20% of the people who fought off COVID (tens of millions in America) reported at least one symptom lingering after (Cooney, 2022). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refer to this as Long COVID or post-COVID conditions.
Once we've been sick, sometimes it's harder to bounce back. This condition is such a serious issue that, as of July 2021, Long COVID is considered a disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
After COVID Effects
Do you feel like you still have a headache since COVID? Are your smell and taste still off? Are breathing, exercising, and deep breathing more complicated than before? Don't worry: you're not alone.
Having symptoms after COVID can make you feel crazy. You don't know if you're still sick or getting sick again or if something completely new is wrong. It can be hard to deal with long-term COVID symptoms.
As if COVID wasn't challenging enough, parts of the body can take longer to recover, even after the virus is over. The most commonly reported symptoms after COVID were tiredness, chest/joint/muscle pain, difficulty thinking, and sleep dysfunction. Symptoms last from weeks to months.
Several studies and surveys have been conducted based on understanding the impacts of COVID on the human body long after the initial sickness. Find more studies through the National Institute of Health or Google Scholar.
Show Me the Studies
Many research studies and sources create a list of findings regarding life with symptoms after COVID.
Out of 284 post-COVID patients, 118 mention one or more long COVID symptoms, and 34.5% reported anxiety, depression, and, most commonly, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (CDC, 2022).
From a sample of 143 patients, researchers found that only 12.6% were utterly symptom-free, 32% experienced one to two symptoms, and 55% experienced three or more (Carfi et al., 2020). 44.1% of patients claimed a worsened quality of life. Patients also reported tiredness, chest or joint pain, and difficulty breathing.
The ten most common symptoms reported after COVID were headache, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest/joint/muscle pain, altered smell/taste, and diarrhea (Aiyegbusi et al., 2021).
From 2,550 participants, results showed that the most common symptoms immediately after COVID include chest tightness or pressure, headache, shortness of breath, and exhaustion (Ziauddeen et al., 2022). Afterward, altered thinking and heart palpitations are present. 64.4% said they needed help continuing daily activities.
Some patients report fluctuating and returning symptoms that can be triggered or made worse by stress, lack of sleep, and physical activity. Some report the inability to live alone, and others say they cannot work because of COVID.
Including 96 patients one year after diagnosis, only 22.9% were free of all symptoms (Seeble et al., 2021). The most commonly reported problems were tiredness, concentration problems, inability to find words, fatigue, and oversleeping. Females have more neurocognitive symptoms.
73% of 9,751 participants experienced at least one symptom after COVID (Nasserie et al., 2021). The most common symptoms were exhaustion, fatigue, shortness of breath, and sleep disorders.
Long COVID symptoms include muscle pain, breathlessness, cough, palpitations, and difficulty focusing (Raveendran, 2021).
Some patients experience nausea and loss of smell (Tejada et al., 2020).
The Mayo Clinic found some common after-effects of COVID: fever, lung complications, neurological symptoms, heart symptoms, digestive troubles, blood clots, rashes, and changes in menstrual cycles.
Long Covid Symptoms List
Overall, in addition to the most common after-effects of COVID on the human body, patients seem to experience:
· Blood clots
· Blood pressure changes
· Irritability and mood disorders
· Loss/altered taste/smell
· Inability to stay awake
· Trouble making decisions
· Muscle weakness
· Loss of appetite
While there is no direct cure for Long COVID, many treatments can help you ward off COVID effects. Always check with a doctor before changing or starting a new treatment plan.
Fatigue – Fatigue, or tiredness, can be exhausting (see what I did there?). This feeling can keep us from being happy and productive. Exercise, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and sugar can improve fatigue. Many people have found relief through apple cider vinegar gummies.
Chest Pain – Chest pain can be scary and painful. Knowing the reason, though, can make it more manageable. Stretching, deep breathing exercises, and meditation can help chest pain. Cherries can be used for chest pain or discomfort.
Joint/Muscle Pain – Some Long COVID sufferers experience joint and muscle pain that affects their quality of life. Light exercise, walking, meditation, NSAIDs, and yoga can improve joint and muscle pain. It's common to use some pain relieving cream for these symptoms.
Difficulty Concentrating – Difficulty concentrating can be frustrating, embarrassing, and irritating. Meditating, deep breathing, decreasing stress, and avoiding caffeine/sugar/alcohol can improve disorganized thinking.
Sleeping Problems – Your entire health status revolves around your sleep. Inadequate sleep can lead to several issues and make Long COVID symptoms worse. Using temperature-regulating blankets, rest oils, noise machines, exercising, and getting a massage can help with insomnia.
Nausea – Some patients report sickness, and nausea may be secondary to many symptoms (chest pain, anxiety, loss of appetite, etc.). It can be hard to hold food, liquids, and even medicine down when you are nauseous. Using stomach drops can help with nausea without having to eat or drink.
After a potent virus, your body is weak and tired from fighting it. It's important to recover to get the mind and body back to normal faster.
Recovery lessens the impact of COVID on your life. Post-COVID recovery is different for everyone, but overall staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding stress can improve recovery after COVID.
Continuing Care After COVID
Many patients feel unsupported and afraid to express their concerns to healthcare providers after COVID. In a focus group of 114 people, many thought they weren't taken seriously, could not reach specialists and were emotionally strained (Ladds et al., 2020).
Feel free to reach out to your doctor if something feels wrong. They will help you find and treat the problem. Listen to your body as much as you listen to your provider. Aftercare, if you still don't see improvement, consider a second opinion or another treatment plan.
What causes symptoms after COVID?
Long COVID could be related to post-critical care syndrome, organ damage, post-viral syndrome, and more (Raveendran et al., 2021). Symptoms may also come and go, change over time, get worse, or get better. Symptoms may worsen with mental or physical effort. More research is needed to understand what causes Long COVID.
Does the vaccine make COVID symptoms worse?
Arnold et al. (2021) found that the vaccine did not significantly worsen patients' quality of life or symptoms after having COVID and receiving a vaccine. However, COVID vaccines may cause Long COVID symptoms in some recipients (Frankel & Vogel, 2022).
How long do symptoms last after COVID?
The CDC reports that these symptoms may persist for four weeks and even months after infection. Everyone is different and has a unique recovery experience. Symptoms may stop and then return after some time. At this point, it's hard to say precisely how long to expect post-COVID symptoms to last.
Is Long COVID dangerous?
Suppose you're experiencing long-term effects from COVID. In that case, it's essential to visit your doctor to ensure there are no other underlying conditions that could be causing the symptoms (such as heart disease causing chest pain instead of Long COVID).
Specific symptoms like altered taste and smell may indirectly affect health and well-being. This means they may be a factor in well-being but may not necessarily be considered dangerous. Other symptoms, such as shortness of breath and blood clots, can be hazardous in some situations.
How Long Have You Had Symptoms?
Symptoms after COVID are common. It can be depressing to lag behind others even after beating the virus. However, understanding what Long COVID is and how to treat it will help you regain control of your life.
Are you experiencing any Long COVID symptoms? Add a comment below to add to the conversation! Stay safe with updates from Life After Covid by subscribing to the email list!
Aiyegbusi, O., Hughes, S., Turner, G., Rivera, S., McMullan, C., Chandan, J., Haroon, S., Price, G., Davies, E.,Nirantharakumar, K., Sapey, E., & Calvert, M. (15 July 2021). Symptoms, complications, and management of longCOVID: A review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 114(9). https://doi.org/10.1177/01410768211032850
Arnold, D., Milne, A., Samms, E., Stadon, S., Maskell, N., & Hamilton, F. (2021). Are vaccines safe in patients withLong COVID: A prospective observational study. medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.11.21253225
Carfi, A., Bernabei, R., & Landi, F. (9 July 2020). Persistent symptoms in patients after acute COVID-19. JAMANetwork. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12603
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1 September 2022). Long COVID or post-COVID conditions. Retrieved from their site.
Cooney, E. (6 July 2022). Estimates of long Covid are startingly high. Here’s how to understand them. STAT.
Frankel, J. & Vogel, G. (20 January 2022). In rare cases, coronavirus vaccines may cause Long Covid-like symptoms.Science.
Ladds, E., Rushforth, A., Wieringa, S., Taylor, S., Rayner, C., Husain, L., & Greenhalgh, T. (2020). Persistentsymptoms after COVID-19: Qualitative study of 114 Long COVID patients and draft quality principles for services.BMC Health Services Research, 20(114).
Nasserie, T., Hittle, M., & Goodman, S. (26 May 2021). Assessment of the frequency and variety of persistentsymptoms among patients with COVID-19: A systemic review. JAMA Network Open, 4(5).doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.11417
Poyraz, B., Poyraz, C., Olgun, Y., Gurel, O., Alkan, S., Ozdemir, Y., Balkan, I., and Karaali, R. (2021). Psychiatricmorbidity and protracted symptoms after COVID-19. Psychiatry Research, 295.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113604
Raveendran, A., Jayadevan, R., & Sashidharan, S. (2021). Long COVID: An overview. Diabetes & MetabolicSyndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, 15(3). 869-875. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsx.2021.04.007
Seeble, J., Waterboer, T., Hippchen, T., Simon, J., Kirchner, M., Lim, A., Muller, B., & Merle, U. (2022). Persistentsymptoms in adult patients 1 year after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019): A prospective cohort study. ClinicalInfectous Disease, 74(7). 1191-1198. 10.1093/cid/ciab611
Tejada, C., Garcia, C., Gonzalez, S., Bañuelso, K., Amaro, J., Garcia, K., Quiñones, C., Calzada, L., Barranco, J., Avila,J., Escobedo, F., Padilla, J., Tejada, J., Rosales, H., Acuña, M., Villagrana, A., Santiago, B., & Curiel, I. (2020).Persistence of COVID-19 symptoms after recovery in Mexican population. International Journal of EnvironmentalResearch and Public Health, 17(24). https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/24/9367
Ziauddeen, N., Gurdasani, D., O’Hara, M., Hastie, C., Roderick, P., Yao, G., and Alwan, N. (2022). Characteristics andimpact of Long COVID: Findings from an online survey. PLoS One, 17(3). 10.1371/journal.pone.0264331