How long does long COVID-19 last?
Nov. 14, 2022—Scientists have learned a lot about COVID-19 in recent years. However, there are still many things we do not fully understand about the coronavirus. That includes long COVID-19.
What is long COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who get COVID-19 recover in a few days or weeks. But some experience symptoms weeks or even months after they recover from the initial infection. That's what's known as long COVID-19.
We don't understand long COVID-19 yet. But one major question is: How long do the symptoms last? There's no definite answer. But a new study published in JAMA may offer some insight.
How the study worked
Scientists looked at medical records from more than 1 million people, as well as 54 previous studies. They had all had symptomatic cases of COVID-19. Using this data, the study estimated how many experienced long COVID-19. The researchers looked for reports of 3 types of symptoms linked to long COVID-19:
- Fatigue with body pain or mood changes.
- Trouble thinking clearly.
- Issues breathing normally.
If any of these symptoms were reported at least 3 months after the person's original case of COVID-19, they were considered symptoms of long COVID-19. Researchers also collected information on how long these symptoms lasted.
What the study found
The researchers found that 6.2% of people who had symptomatic COVID-19 had symptoms 3 months later. Among the people who had long COVID-19:
- People who were hospitalized for COVID-19 experienced long COVID-19 symptoms for an average of 9 months.
- People who were not hospitalized for COVID-19 experienced long COVID-19 symptoms for an average of 4 months.
- 15% of people with long COVID-19 still had symptoms after a year.
These findings were averages based on the available records. But individual experiences with long COVID-19 vary—and scientists are still working to understand the condition. If you are living with long COVID-19, your doctor can help you understand and cope with your symptoms. And you can learn more about COVID-19 in our Coronavirus health topic center.