What is Long COVID?

Building our understanding of recovery

A man in a mask, a girl, and virus icons

Long COVID is real. If you have long-term effects related to COVID, you're not alone.

The NIH is committed to finding answers. Our researchers are working to learn more about the long-term effects of COVID so we can help prevent and treat them.

As we learn more about the long-term effects of COVID, we'll update the information on this page.

Learn About Symptoms

Long-term effects of COVID may be different for everyone and they can affect many different parts of the body, such as the brain, heart, and lungs. And people who have PASC, including Long COVID, can have different kinds of effects. These effects may come and go, and they may last for a few weeks, a few months, or longer.

Some common effects 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

To learn more about long-term effects from COVID, scroll down the page, check out our PASC fact sheet (PDF, 627KB), or the Post-COVID Conditions webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What We Know

Many people have effects long after they get COVID, which is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2.

Recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection can vary from person to person (see below) and symptoms may begin at different times:

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 at first but start having symptoms weeks or months later.

All the long-term effects of COVID together are called post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC. People often use the term Long COVID to talk about PASC.

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 at first but start having symptoms weeks or months later.

All the long-term effects of COVID together are called post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC. People often use the term Long COVID to talk about PASC.

You can have long-term effects 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 researchers are working hard to find out:

How SARS-CoV-2 causes long-term effects. Understanding why the virus can lead to long-term effects will help us develop effective treatments.
How many people have had long-term effects. More than 490 million people around the world have had COVID. It’s possible that many millions of them may have Long COVID.
If getting COVID makes people more likely to develop other health conditions. We already know that COVID can cause long-term effects, but we’re working to understand if COVID makes people more likely to develop other health conditions.
Why some people who get COVID have long-term effects but others don’t. We’re still learning how personal characteristics like age, gender, race or ethnicity, and health status may be related to long-term effects.
How PASC affects different groups of people. In many ways, communities of color have been hit hardest by COVID. By including people of all races and ethnicities, genders, ages, and locations in research, we can gain a better understanding of how PASC affects everyone.

How You Can Help

We’re looking for people across the country to volunteer for research studies on the long-term effects of COVID. You can sign up for more information using this link.

Keep Learning

Read more about the RECOVER Initiative:

Learn How RECOVER Research
Works

Read about the steps researchers are taking to study Long COVID.

News &
Events

Keep up with the latest RECOVER news and events.

Read More About Long
COVID

Check out our fact sheet to learn more about the long-term effects of COVID.

Explore other resources:

CDC’s Post-COVID Conditions

Learn more about the long-term effects of COVID

Who has long-COVID? A big data approach

Learn what groups of people are more likely to get Long COVID

Lit COVID

Check out scientific articles on SARS-CoV-2

ACTIV Seminar Series: Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2

Watch seminars about the latest Long COVID research

Find Studies near you at:
studies.recovercovid.org
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