Long COVID or post-COVID conditions
Long COVID, now known as post-COVID conditions, is when some people continue to feel unwell three months after getting COVID-19.
The time it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for every person. Most people will recover within four weeks, but others may take four to 12 weeks.
If someone experiences symptoms 12 weeks after getting COVID-19, they may be experiencing post-COVID-19 conditions (long COVID).
Common symptoms of long COVID
Common symptoms of long COVID include:
- fatigue or extreme tiredness
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- memory, concentration or sleep problems (known as ‘brain fog’)
- persistent cough
- hoarse voice
- chest pain
- trouble speaking
- joint or muscle aches
- change in sense of taste or smell
- low mood
- difficulty going about everyday activities such as work or household chores.
If you are not getting better after six weeks, speak to your GP or primary health care clinic. They may do some tests to see if your symptoms are caused by long COVID or another health condition.
It is also possible to get repeat infections of COVID-19. If you have recovered and are experiencing new COVID-19 symptoms more than 12 weeks later, you should get tested for COVID-19.
You can have long COVID even if your initial case of COVID-19 was mild. Some people develop new symptoms or have symptoms that come and go.
It is not yet clear why some people experience long COVID. Studies suggest vaccinated people are less likely to have long COVID symptoms.
The best way of minimising your risk of long COVID is to protect yourself from COVID-19 itself. Early evidence from overseas suggests that resting and not returning to exercise until you have completely recovered may reduce the risk of developing post-COVID-19 conditions.
Everyone’s experience after COVID-19 will be different. If you need help, talk to your regular doctor (GP) or primary health care clinic.
A range of support services are available to help Territorians stay informed about COVID-19 and keep well.
Your family and friends can help your recovery so reach out and ask for support if you need it.
If your symptoms are life threatening or you need immediate assistance, call Triple Zero (000).
- Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation – Post-COVID Hub – Get Support After COVID-19
- British Lung Foundation – Stay Active and Stay Well [videos]
- National Health Service (NHS):
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) – Managing Common Post-COVID-19 Symptoms at Home
- Royal College of Occupational Therapists:
- World Health Organization – Support for Rehabilitation Self‑Management after COVID‑19‑Related Illness