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Understanding Long COVID: What You Need to Know

March 15 is recognized as International "Long COVID Awareness Day," but what exactly is long COVID? While most people recover from a COVID-19 infection within a few days or weeks, some may have symptoms that persist after the initial infection or experience new symptoms that arise later. This is known as long COVID.


Long COVID (also referred to as post-COVID conditions, long-haul COVID, and chronic COVID) is defined by the CDC as "a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems that people experience after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19."


Individuals can develop long COVID even months after their initial infection. Those who have experienced more severe COVID-19 illness, individuals with underlying health conditions prior to COVID-19, and those who did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine are at greater risk of experiencing long COVID.


Symptoms of Long COVID:

Identifying long COVID can be challenging due to the wide range of symptoms, which can vary in duration and severity. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue

  • Fever

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • Cough

  • Chest pain

  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (heart palpitations)

  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (brain fog)

  • Headache

  • Sleep problems

  • Lightheadedness

  • Pins-and-needles feelings

  • Change in smell or taste

  • Depression or anxiety

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain

  • Joint or muscle pain

  • Rash

  • Changes in menstrual cycles

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have previously had COVID-19, the CDC recommends contacting your healthcare provider to create a "personal medical management plan" to help improve your symptoms and receive the necessary care.


Preventing Long COVID:

Since long COVID occurs after being infected with the COVID-19 virus, staying up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations is the best way to prevent it. Preventing COVID-19 altogether helps prevent long COVID.


To find a testing site near you, visit www.vaccines.ca.gov or text your ZIP code to 438829.


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