What is Long Covid?

The current definition for Long Covid is: the presence of signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection that is consistent with Covid-19, which continues for 12 weeks or more and is not explained by an alternative diagnosis (NICE).

The Covid-19 Infection Survey which represents those who experienced Covid-19 in the UK, estimated that one in five people will exhibit Covid symptoms for 5 weeks or longer after infection with coronavirus. And 1one in ten will exhibit symptoms for 12 weeks or longer and may therefore experience long Covid.

Important to note: You don’t have to have had a positive Covid-19 test to have Long Covid.

Symptoms of Long Covid

There are many symptoms of Long Covid but the three most commonly reported symptoms are:

  • Cognitive impairment (brain fog)
  • Fatigue
  • Post-exertion malaise (immediate or delayed worsening of symptoms following any type of exertion - physical, emotional, mental or cognitive symptoms)

Other symptoms include:

  • Respiratory:
    • Breathlessness
    • Cough
    • Breathing pattern disorders
  • Cardiovascular:
    • Chest tightness
    • Chest pain
    • Palpitations
    • Changes to heart rate at rest or on exertion
  • Neurological:
    • Headaches
    • Insomnia/sleep disturbance
    • Peripheral neuropathies
    • Dizziness
    • Delirium
    • Cognitive impairment (brain fog)
  • Gastrointestinal:
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhoea
    • Reduced appetite
  • Musculoskeletal:
    • Joint and muscle pain
  • Psychological/psychiatric:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
  • Ears, nose and throat:
    • Tinnitus
    • Sore throat
    • Dizziness
    • Loss of taste and smell
  • Dermatological:
    • Skin rashes

Managing Long Covid

  • Daily activities/pacing: modify daily activities to help find the balance between rest and action and subsequently help reduce symptoms. Examples include: sitting while showering, dressing, or eating. Using assistive technology in your house or workplace could also help conserve energy and make performing daily tasks easier.
  • Heart rate monitoring: wearing a heart rate monitor to help pace more accurately. Advice suggests using resting heart rate as a benchmark and aim to keep within 15 beats per minute of your resting heart rate.
  • Rehabilitation: Your Covid Recovery is an NHS website which provides free self-management for people recovering from Covid-19.
  • Speak to your GP: try and write down key points to help you explain your experience. Long Covid Support provides a letter template to give to your GP to help get your symptoms across and get the help you need.
  • Speak to Occupational Health: liaising with Occupational Health can help make your workplace aware of your condition and put in place any arrangements needed.
  • Speak with us: if there is anything that is still bothering you due to Long Covid, or that has happened in the meanwhile, chat to us or complete an online referral form.

Important to note: post exertion malaise should be taken into account before any exercise is considered. 

Check these websites for more information:

image_11udef6.pngYour Covid Recovery website

Long Covid Support website

image_1oj5p14.pngLong Covid Physio website

Post Covid-19 recovery: information by CNWL NHS on how to support your physical and mental health

Updated on: 21/04/2022