What is Long Covid? Long Covid is an informal term that is commonly used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after an acute infection of Covid-19.

In the UK, it is estimated that one in five people will exhibit Covid-19 symptoms for five weeks or longer after infection with coronavirus. One in ten people will exhibit symptoms for 12 weeks or longer and may therefore experience long term effects of coronavirus (Long Covid or Post Covid Syndrome).

Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.

There are lots of symptoms you can have after a Covid-19 infection. Common Long Covid symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

Are you experiencing any of the symptoms above? Or if you are not sure about your symptoms, have a chat with one of our Keeping Well practitioners. We can also give you guidance on where to go for more help.

The recovery time is different for everyone. The length of your recovery is not necessarily related to the severity of your initial illness or whether you were in hospital. If new or ongoing symptoms do occur and they are causing you concern, you should always seek medical advice and support.

Breathing techniques

Physiotherapy for Breathing Pattern Disorders has produced two useful information leaflets on how to breathe through your nose and good breathing whilst recovering from Long Covid. 

Daily activities

Modify daily activities to help find the balance between rest and action and subsequently help reduce symptoms. Examples include: breaking tasks up into smaller tasks throughout the day, planning rest breaks and using specially adapted equipment. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists have tips and information which can be found here.

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.

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. You can also visit the NHS Employers website for further information.


Visit 'Your Covid Recovery' is an NHS website which provides free self-management for people recovering from Covid-19.

Leaflet: Post Covid-19 Recovery

Read and download this leaflet by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust which contains information on how to manage ongoing physical symptoms, and where to find support to manage feelings of anxiety, low mood, or unpleasent memories since having Covid-19.

There is also an Easy Read version and the translated versions, which are in BengaliHindiSwahili and Somali, available to download.

Leaflet: Breathing techniques

Physiotherapy for Breathing Pattern Disorders has produced two useful information leaflets on how to breathe through your nose and good breathing whilst recovering from Long Covid. 

RCOT: How to manage post-viral fatigue after Covid-19

This webpage by Royal College of Therapists offers practical advice for people who have recovered at home.

Long Covid Support Charity

The Long Covid Support Charity was formed by a group of people struggling to recover from Covid-19. Their work spans three areas including peer support, advocacy and research involvement. The website contains lots of useful information and resources about Long Covid.

Long Covid and returning to work

Many of those affected are of working age, previously fit and well, and now struggling with debilitating symptoms. Long Covid is a multi-systemic condition with many variable symptoms.  These may include brain fog, memory problems, anxiety, and fatigue. Employers should be aware that Long Covid can present in different ways in different people. Also, symptoms can vary in a single individual on any given day. 

There are many factors that contribute to a successful return to work. This may have to be on reduced hours and/or in a modified or different role because of persistent symptoms.

Covid leave/pay

In the NHS staff with Long Covid receive full pay and the normal sickness absence triggers don’t apply. Some non-NHS employers have also explored ways to support staff financially as they recover.

What managers can do

Managers can support staff by:

  • keeping in touch in a non-intrusive way,
  • informing themselves about Long Covid and its impact,
  • not trying to force the pace and also resisting the member’s attempts to return to work prematurely
  • being flexible in tailoring return to work plans
  • using a problem-solving approach with the member (and rep)

Supporting Occupational Health and Wellbeing Professionals (SOM) have released guidance for managers on supporting employees with Long Covid

Occupational health input

Occupational health service involvement is key. This involves assessment and ongoing advice to the employer and employee. It also involves access to other services such as

  • referral to medical services for appropriate investigation, management and referral to Long Covid clinics
  • counselling
  • physiotherapy
  • Long Covid support groups

Support groups

Long Covid support groups can be invaluable for sharing experiences and practical tips or advice. Support groups are an excellent way of connecting with others in similar circumstances.  This can help reduce feelings of isolation by connecting with others to gain a better understanding of Long Covid.  They are safe and supportive spaces to exchange support and ideas.  Two examples of Long Covid supports groups are:

Source: www.csp.org.uk

Long Covid video series

Occupational Therapy colleagues from University Hospitals of Derby and Burton have developed a series of free videos on Long Covid. The videos include:

  • rehabilitation from Long Covid
  • manager's advice to support employees returning to work