Symptoms and complications
While most people recover from COVID-19 within a few weeks, some can have lingering symptoms a month or more after initial diagnosis. This condition, sometimes called long COVID-19, is most likely to occur in older people and those with another serious medical condition, though young and otherwise healthy people also can experience it.
As researchers continue to evaluate the long-term effects of COVID-19, at Mayo Clinic Healthcare, we have a guided program that provides advice and treatment for people who have had COVID-19 to help them return to health and check that their organs are functioning properly after recovery.
Common signs and symptoms of long COVID-19 include:
- Chest pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Dizziness when standing
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Joint pain
- Loss of smell or taste
- Memory, concentration or sleep problems
- Muscle pain or headache
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Worsened symptoms after physical or mental exertion
Organ damage caused by COVID-19 may increase the risk of long-term health problems:
- Heart. COVID-19 can cause lasting damage to the heart, even in people who experience only mild COVID-19 symptoms. A possible consequence is a higher risk of future heart failure or other heart conditions.
- Lungs. COVID-19 can cause a type of pneumonia connected to long-term damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This can lead to chronic breathing problems.
- Brain. Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause seizures, strokes and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Some evidence suggests it may also increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
COVID-19 has also been associated with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which causes some tissues and organs to become severely inflamed.
Blood clots and blood vessel problems
COVID-19 can make blood cells more likely to clump and form clots. While large clots can cause heart attacks and strokes, experts think that much of the heart damage caused by COVID-19 stems from very small clots that block tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the heart muscle.
Other parts of the body affected by blood clots include the lungs, legs, liver and kidneys. COVID-19 can also weaken blood vessels and cause them to leak, which contributes to potentially long-lasting problems with the liver and kidneys.
Treatment for long COVID-19
Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London has a Long COVID Clinic to assist people who have lingering symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Our clinic staff, which is fully supported by a wide range of experts in the U.S., comprises general physicians as well as experts in respiratory medicine and heart health.