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What is Long COVID?

Building our understanding of recovery

Long COVID is real. Many people have symptoms and health problems for weeks, months, or even years after getting COVID-19. Patients and their families often call this condition Long COVID, and doctors and scientists may refer to it as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC).

If you have Long COVID, you're not alone. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the RECOVER Initiative are committed to learning more about the long-term effects of COVID so we can understand, diagnose, prevent, and treat them.

As we learn more about Long COVID, we'll update the information on this page.

Learn About Symptoms

The long-term effects of COVID may be different for everyone. They can affect many different parts of the body, such as the brain, heart, and lungs. People who have Long COVID can also have many different kinds of symptoms. These symptoms may come and go, and they may last for a few weeks, a few months, or longer.

Over 200 symptoms of Long COVID have been reported in many different studies. Some common symptoms of Long COVID include:

  • Coughing or feeling short of breath
  • Loss of smell or change in taste
  • Fever
  • Body aches, headaches, chest pain, or stomach pain
  • Brain fog (feeling like you can't think clearly)
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling very tired
  • Mood changes
200+more symptoms
and counting

Learn more about Long COVID:

What We Know

Many people experience symptoms long after they get COVID.

The symptoms of Long COVID may begin at different times for different people.

Some people start feeling sick when they get COVID and continue to have symptoms for weeks or months.

Other people start having new symptoms weeks or months after their first symptoms of COVID go away.

Some people don’t have any symptoms when they get COVID but start having symptoms weeks or months later.

Long COVID symptoms can start at different times after a COVID-19 infection and affect people for different amounts of time.

Some people start feeling sick when they get COVID and continue to have symptoms for weeks or months.

Other people start having new symptoms weeks or months after their first symptoms of COVID go away.

Some people don’t have any symptoms when they get COVID but start having symptoms weeks or months later.

Long COVID symptoms can start at different times after a COVID-19 infection and affect people for different amounts of time.

You can have Long COVID even if you were never diagnosed with COVID. For different reasons, some people don’t get an official COVID diagnosis from a doctor. But even people who never knew they had COVID can have effects weeks or months later.

What We're Working to Learn

What We're Working to
Learn

RECOVER is making progress every day to understand, treat, and prevent Long COVID. RECOVER research aims to:

Understand the causes of Long COVID and how they affect recovery from a COVID infection.
Define how often Long COVID occurs after COVID infection, and who is at the greatest risk of developing it.
Study the long-term effects COVID can have on the body and whether Long COVID increases the risk of other diseases over time.
Identify possible treatments or ways to prevent the different types of Long COVID.

How You Can Help

We’re looking for people across the country to participate in Long COVID research studies.

If you choose to participate in a RECOVER study, here’s what to expect:

  • Researchers will ask you questions about your health, review your medical history, and monitor your health throughout the study.
  • You will have check-ups with a doctor and take tests, like blood and urine (pee) tests.
  • For observational cohort studies, you won’t receive any treatment for Long COVID as part of the study or be asked to take any medication or shots.
  • For clinical trial studies, you will receive treatment for Long COVID. That may mean you take medication or do some kind of therapy that is meant to help with Long COVID symptoms.
  • You will receive compensation for participating in these studies.

Learn about RECOVER observational cohort studies

Learn about RECOVER clinical trials

Visit Community Participation to learn about other RECOVER opportunities.

Keep Learning

Read more about the RECOVER Initiative:

Keep up with the latest RECOVER news and events.

Find answers to frequently asked questions about RECOVER and Long COVID.

Read about the steps RECOVER researchers are taking to understand, prevent, and treat Long COVID.

Learn more about RECOVER’s most recent Long COVID discoveries and progress.

Explore other resources:

Learn more about NIH research on COVID vaccines, COVID treatments, and Long COVID.

Read and download this fact sheet (PDF, 268 KB) from the NIH Community Engagement Alliance.

Learn more about the long-term effects of COVID.

Check out scientific articles on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID.

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