The COVID pandemic is not yet done with us in the United States, and the story certainly is different country by country, but there is a great deal of attention currently with “Long COVID.” Whose list of Long COVID symptoms do you buy: CDC’s list of 19 symptoms, United Kingdom’s NHS list of 16 symptoms, Yale Medicine’s count at 22 symptoms or Mayo Clinic’s count at 10 symptoms.
Let’s keep it focused with Mayo Clinic’s roster, but you can peruse the other pedigrees if you wish, but you may not see a lot that Mayo does not already cover with its Top Ten. Most people recover from COVID-19 within a few weeks of first testing positive, but some have symptoms of what Mayo calls “Post-COVID Syndrome” which can carry on for more than four months, but may linger for as much as a year. What are the potential characteristics of this syndrome according to Mayo:
(The Most Common)
- Fatigue is at the top of the list, and it simply doesn’t go away lasting as long as the one year I mentioned.
- Fever may not be scorching high, but it, too, may persist well beyond the acute phase of the condition.
- Respiratory issues may persist in a variety of manifestations like shortness of breath, coughing or just difficulty breathing.
- Recurrent symptoms after mental or physical exertion
(Other Symptomatic Contenders)
- Brain fog is what some label the difficulty thinking or concentrating, headaches, sleeping difficulties or dizziness, “pins and needles” or loss of smell or taste, depression or anxiety.
- Joint and muscle pains may feel like having had a physical workout or being beaten by a bully.
- Cardiac symptoms that may mimic a genuine heart attack…racing heart rhythm or pain in the chest area.
- Digestive issues that may seem like “something I ate” which cause diarrhea or pain in the stomach.
- Clotting in the vascular system that can cause serious blockage in the legs or in the lungs.
- “Other” which may be unusual for a virus like rash or menstrual cycle changes.
It’s important to track such symptoms, what precipitates them, when they started, how long they last and what tends to exacerbate them. And if it is a loved one, help them with this journal and bring the notes you make to a visit to a physician, and if you’re visiting a primary care physician, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to an infectious disease specialist, a cardiologist, or pulmonologist. This may require a team, but keeping notes and asking the right questions will get you and your loved one to the other side of recovery.
By the way, in a 19-month long study women with a “healthy lifestyle” were 49% less likely than women with less healthy lifestyles to develop Long Covid. Check out the healthy lifestyle activities in which you should engage so you don’t have to sleuth your symptoms here.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.