Most people who have COVID-19 recover completely. Some people continue to have health problems after having COVID-19. This is called long COVID.

Long COVID can happen in people who had mild to severe disease or no symptoms at all during an active COVID-19 infection. Long COVID most often affects adults. It can also occur in children, although less often.

Other names for long COVID include: long-haul COVID, chronic COVID, post-COVID conditions (PCC), and post-acute sequelae of SARS CoV-2 infection (PASC).

Alternative Names

Post-COVID; Post-COVID conditions; PCC; Long-haul COVID; Post-acute COVID-19; Post-acute sequelae of SARS CoV-2 infection; PASC; Long-term effects of COVID-19; Chronic COVID


Health experts are not sure exactly what causes long COVID. Some theories include:

Long COVID health problems may be due to more than one of these factors. Research is ongoing to find out what causes long COVID, and who is most at risk.

Your risk of developing long COVID may be higher if you:

People at high risk for COVID-19 infection because of where they live and work and members of communities who don't have good access to health care may also be at risk for long COVID.

People with mild COVID-19 can also develop long COVID. Some people have developed long COVID and never knew they had a COVID-19 infection.


A person who has symptoms that persist for 4 or more weeks after a case of COVID-19 is said to have long COVID. Long COVID does not affect every person the same way. The symptoms may:

Symptoms of long COVID may last for weeks, months, or longer. Although many people have mild symptoms, long COVID can be disabling for some people.

Common symptoms of long COVID include:

Long COVID can affect different body systems and include other symptoms:

Long COVID may affect multiple organs in the body, such as the lungs, kidneys, heart, brain, and skin. People who had severe COVID-19 are more at risk for multi-organ effects. This increases the risk for a person to develop diabetes, heart conditions, or neurological problems compared to people who did not have COVID-19.

Some long COVID symptoms, such as muscle weakness and PTSD may result from having spent a long time in the hospital. These effects can occur from any illness that leads to being in bed for a long time and being on a breathing machine (intubated).

Long COVID symptoms vary a lot and can be hard to figure out and manage. Because of this, people with long COVID can have a hard time getting a proper diagnosis.

Exams and Tests

There are no specific tests for long COVID. Your health care provider may diagnose you with long COVID based on:

Medical tests may be normal despite the presence of symptoms, and this does not rule out a long COVID diagnosis.


There is no specific cure for long COVID. Treatment will depend on your symptoms and may include:

You may want to consider joining a clinical trial for long COVID. A clinical trial is a study using people who agree to participate in new tests or treatments. Clinical trials help researchers know whether a new treatment works well and is safe. The National Institutes of Health has created RECOVER: Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery where you can learn more about long COVID clinical trials near you.

For the most up-to-date information on long COVID, visit these websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Long COVID or post-COVID conditions -- www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Post-COVID Conditions: CDC science -- www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-care/post-covid-science.html

US Department of Health and Human Services: COVID-19 Treatments -- aspr.hhs.gov/COVID-19/treatments/Pages/default.aspx

Support Groups

More information and support for people with long COVID and their families can be found at:

Outlook (Prognosis)

COVID-19 is a new disease, so no one knows exactly what the outlook will be for people with post-COVID symptoms. Most people who have symptoms at 4 weeks after a COVID-19 infection will gradually improve. Research is ongoing into how to help people with long COVID overcome the condition.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

You should contact your provider if you had COVID-19 and you have ongoing symptoms for 4 weeks or more, or the same or new symptoms return 4 or more weeks after your illness.

Call 911 or the local emergency number if you have:


The only way to prevent long COVID is to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection.


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Review Date: 2/22/2023
Reviewed By: Frank D. Brodkey, MD, FCCM, Associate Professor, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 03/13/2024.
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