Most people who test positive to COVID-19 will be able to safely recover at home. Get advice on the steps you should take and how you can access support.
The time it takes to recover from COVID-19 will vary from person to person.
It is normal for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to last for several weeks after testing positive. However, some people may have ongoing, persistent symptoms that can make it difficult to continue with your day-to-day activities.
What is Long COVID?
Long COVID or Post COVID-19 Syndrome refers to the ongoing physical, mental, emotional and cognitive symptoms that a person may continue to experience for more than 12 weeks after testing positive.
For patients with symptoms lasting between 4 weeks to 12 weeks since COVID-19 diagnosis, this is termed “Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19”
Long COVID symptoms
There is a wide range of symptoms reported by people experiencing Long COVID. The most common symptoms are fatigue, cough and shortness of breath.
Common Long COVID symptoms include:
- fatigue or extreme tiredness
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- brain fog, trouble concentrating, difficulty with memory
- loss of taste and smell
- sleep and mood disturbance
- headaches or dizziness
- joint or muscle pains
- chest pain
- hair loss
- hoarse voice
- struggling to perform day-to-day tasks
It is important to remember:
- Symptoms of long COVID will vary from person to person
- Symptoms may come and go or fluctuate over time
- Long COVID can occur in anyone who has had COVID-19, regardless of how mild or severe their symptoms were initially
- Early research indicates being vaccinated against COVID-19 reduces your chance of developing Long COVID
If you develop new COVID-19 symptoms more than 28 days after your recovery from COVID-19, get a PCR test as it is possible that you have been reinfected.
When should I seek help?
If you have ongoing COVID symptoms beyond four weeks after recovery or are concerned you might have Long COVID, make an appointment with your GP.
COVID-19 infection can also cause a range of complications or medical problems, so it is important to attend for assessment by your GP.
A GP will be able to assess your symptoms, decide if further tests are needed and support your Long COVID recovery. When symptoms are persisting or severe, your GP may refer you to a specialist long COVID clinic for additional care.
Long COVID clinics have been established to be accessed via GP referral at Royal Adelaide Hospital, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre. The Women’s and Children’s Hospital will also provide a specialist service for children with Long COVID symptoms through its outpatients clinics.
What can I do to help my symptoms?
When recovering from illness, such as COVID-19, it is common for your symptoms and energy levels to change. If you are feeling well, you may try to do more things, but this could make you feel unwell and you may need to rest. Remember that you need rest to recover.
Fatigue from Long COVID can be severe. For Long COVID patients experiencing fatigue, a small task can cause profound physical exhaustion and difficulty concentrating. This can be frustrating and stressful. It is important to pace, plan and prioritise your activities, in order to avoid becoming this exhausted.
Most people make a full recovery, but it may take time. Monitor your symptoms and seek help if you are not improving or if you need support. It can also be helpful to ask family and friends for support if you need it. Long COVID patient support groups are also emerging.
Find more information on Managing your COVID-19 symptoms at home.