Understanding Long COVID – The Lingering Effects of the Pandemic

Experts are still learning more about COVID, but several patterns seem to be emerging. These include the gender ratio (female patients appear at greater risk) and association between certain acute phase disease severities and long COVID.

Studies by many researchers indicate that long-term COVID may result from Epstein-Barr reactivating in the body and producing symptoms which are commonly brushed aside as being caused by fatigue or cold.


After recovering from Covid-19, many individuals may experience persistent symptoms like chest pain or extreme fatigue that doctors cannot easily pinpoint using tests like blood work or X-rays. They may still provide some diagnostic help; but in many instances they don’t understand why such symptoms persist.

Long Covid symptoms resemble those of less understood chronic illnesses such as ME/CFS and myalgic encephalomyelitis, which can develop post-infection. Unanswered questions from healthcare providers can be frustrating for people.

Studies published by JAMA reveal that researchers discovered 12 symptoms that distinguished those living with Long COVID from those without it, as well as a scoring system to help assess whether someone does have Long COVID. While this score can help, more data need to be accumulated before definitively ruling it out or ruling it in. As part of its ongoing efforts at studying Long COVID and how best to diagnose it, CDC continues to conduct studies regarding who develops it and why, along with improving identification methods.


Researchers are continuing their investigations of long COVID, including who is at risk of it and its severity. COVID can affect people of all ages and can vary in severity; though older adults often exhibit symptoms. COVID can also occur in children. A problem with the autonomic nervous system that regulates heart rate and breathing could contribute; one symptom often seen with long COVID is heart palpitations; this may also be caused by postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

Fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of chronic Covid and may last even after symptoms have subsided. Doing everyday tasks, such as climbing the stairs or going to work, can become physically exhausting and difficult.

Studies indicate that the likelihood of long-term COVID may increase among people who had severe illness in the first week after contracting COVID-19 infection or who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, or were unable to get sufficient rest while sick with COVID-19 infection. It may also occur more frequently among low income earners and those unable to get sufficient rest during that period of their illness.


Assumptions that initially mild cases of COVID-19 — defined as those not necessitating hospitalization during acute stages — do not lead to long-term effects has limited research into this condition, though many people with COVID-19 do experience long-term symptoms for which there is no definitive test available.

Long-term symptoms – commonly referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome or multisystem inflammation syndrome — are thought to result from overactive immune cells producing harmful antibodies which attack tissues and organs of the body, as well as being associated with numerous physical and mental health problems.

Risk factors associated with this post-COVID condition can include female sex, EBV reactivation, autoantibodies, connective tissue disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Racial and ethnic minority groups and those with lower incomes seem more at risk of this post-COVID condition, although more research into its causes is currently ongoing.


World leaders must redouble efforts at prevention, drawing from lessons learned during COVID-19. Failure to do so would create situations similar to SARS and MERS outbreaks – preventative medicine is much preferable than treating disease outbreaks directly. It is crucial for people worldwide to remember that prevention is superior to treatment.

CDC and its partners are working together to gain more insight into long-term symptoms, their causes and who experiences them. Research indicates that certain groups such as rural residents with lower incomes or fewer access to health care are more likely than others to suffer COVID-19-related symptoms lasting months or years; such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and chronic fatigue.

Some lingering symptoms could be the result of inflammation in your body. This could lead to problems like heart palpitations – also known as postural orthostatic tachycardia (POTS). Furthermore, it could trigger other existing conditions, like diabetes and kidney disease that weren’t there before.

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