Lots of people, including some who have not been hospitalised, are experiencing long-term symptoms after they have seemingly got over the worst of their COVID illness.
Whilst many will recover after several weeks, there will be some who struggle to shake off the aftereffects of the virus and continue to have new or persistent symptoms for some months. These can include:
- changes to your taste and smell
- ‘brain fog’
- anxiety and stress
The evidence from both this country and across the world that it can take some people time to recover from COVID and that to experience these things for a few weeks or months is normal. Find out more about what you might expect from your recovery and how to help yourself recover, visit the NHS website, Your Covid Recovery.
Having these ongoing symptoms are a natural part of your recovery, and they should get better by themselves over time without need for medical help, unless your symptoms get worse or are unmanageable.
Your recovery will depend on things like:
- How ill you were with the virus
- Whether you have other health issues
- If you went into hospital
- If you were in intensive care
Some of your symptoms might go away quite quickly, whilst others may take much longer to improve. Be patient with yourself, think about moving forwards gradually and steadily, and ask for support if you need it.
You can help yourself recover by making sure you get enough sleep and eat well. You should also think about conserving your energy so that you have enough to get through the day, by giving yourself permission to pace yourself and slow down and planning your day with plenty of times for rest between short activities. There are more tips on the Your Covid Recovery website.
If you are struggling to complete essential daily activities and are unable to ask for help from family or friends, take a look at the NHS website when to seek help section for more advice and information.
“Small steps and little achievements each day helped me to progress. Plan and set yourself little targets each day, then reflect on how well you have done over say a week. Talk to those around you about how you are progressing. People near to you will often notice the difference more than you. Positive feedback does wonders for boosting your mood.”
For more information on what to expect as you recover and how to help yourself, visit the NHS website yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk
You will find advice for employees and employers in the return to work section of the NHS website.
Not everyone who takes time to recover and suffers after effects of COVID has Long COVID.
Long COVID is defined as signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19 which continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.
Anyone who has had COVID-19 or been suspected as having it can go to their GP if they are still experiencing ongoing symptoms. If you are struggling with your recovery and need support, visit your GP who will assess you, offer you advice and any appropriate treatment, and refer you to the Long COVID clinic if it is appropriate.
Further supporting resources
Please visit https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/ for lots of useful information about symptoms and recovery.
For issues affecting loss of taste or smell or other symptoms related to ear nose and throat, ENTUK and Absent both have patient and clinician information available.
For issues affecting mental health such as anxiety or low mood, MIND have a range of resources and information for patients to access in addition to our local Think Wellbeing Service.