What Is Long COVID (PASC)?

Some people with COVID-19 continue to have lingering symptoms for weeks or months after they begin to recover. You might know this as “long COVID.” Experts have coined a new term for it: post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).

Research says about 10% of people with COVID-19 get long COVID. But it can happen to anyone whether you’re young, old, healthy, or have chronic illness. You can get it even if your early COVID-19 symptoms were mild to moderate, or regardless of whether or not you went to the hospital for them.

Causes

Experts don’t know why people get long COVID. Research continues on that, as well as:

  • Treatment and prevention
  • How long it can take to recover from it
  • Whether long COVID can make heart and brain problems more likely
  • How someone can build immunity after they have COVID-19
  • What role vaccines play

In the meantime, if your doctor diagnoses you with long COVID, they may order blood tests to see if you have any underlying issues that might cause it. They'll also take a look at your medical history.

Symptoms

Long COVID appears to affect each person differently. You might feel a wide range of things that could linger for a long time. Common symptoms include:

You might also have:

In rare cases, long COVID can affect your organs. You may get:

If you have any of these, tell your doctor about it right away.

What You Can Do

The best way to avoid long COVID is to prevent COVID-19 infection.

You should wear a mask and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people when you're in public. Wash your hands with soap or use alcohol-based sanitizer as often as you can and avoid going to crowded places.

When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you, you should take it. If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, talk with your doctor about it.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on March 02, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: “Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination,” “Long-Term Effects of COVID-19.”

National Institutes of Health: “NIH launches new initiative to study 'Long COVID.'”

The BMJ: “Management of post-acute covid-19 in primary care.”

Journal of American Medical Association Network: “Sequelae in Adults at 6 Months After COVID-19 Infection.”

Cleveland Clinic: “What It Means to Be a Coronavirus 'Long-Hauler.'”

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