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How common is long COVID-19?

A masked woman lies on a couch, one hand to her forehead.

Dec. 13, 2021—Many people with COVID-19 get better within a week or more. But for others, symptoms can last much longer. Symptoms that linger or return for four or more weeks after a COVID-19 infection are considered long COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is still a lot to learn about long COVID-19. But it may be more common than expected.

A recent review in JAMA Network Open looked at 57 studies involving more than 250,000 people who had COVID-19 to see what symptoms they experienced. The review found that 54% had symptoms six or more months after first contracting COVID-19.

Long-term symptoms of COVID-19

Experts are working to learn more about what causes long COVID-19 and who is likely to have it. For now, we know that long-term symptoms of COVID-19 can affect both children and adults. According to CDC, you can experience long COVID-19 symptoms even you didn't have COVID-19 symptoms when you were first infected or if your illness was mild.

Some of the most common symptoms of long COVID-19 include:

  • A feeling of pins and needles.
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating, known as brain fog.
  • Chest or stomach pain.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Cough.
  • Dizziness when standing.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Shortness of breath.

If you or a loved one experience long COVID-19 symptoms, don't just live with them. Let your doctor know.

You can take steps to stay healthy

The best way to prevent long-term COVID-19 symptoms is to avoid getting the coronavirus. To protect yourself:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.
  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you're around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid crowds or indoor spaces with poor ventilation.

Already vaccinated?

It may be time for a booster shot. Get the facts about COVID-19 boosters, variants and more in our Coronavirus topic center.

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