Imagine what it would be like to be fighting a life threatening virus? One day you wake up not feeling yourself – your worst nightmare comes true when you test positive for Covid-19! Every day you wonder if this might be your last day…

And then one day you are actually feeling slightly better that you did yesterday – your terrible cough, fever and breathing are slowly getting better – you have turned the corner and in fact you have beat a life threatening disease.  In a couple of weeks – you should be back to your old self.

Weeks pass and although you are feeling much better than you did – you still are not feeling 100% not even close. Your doctor confirms that you no longer have Covid-19 however you struggle doing routine chores such as vacuuming, pick up some groceries, trying to go for a walk around the block – your body aches all over, you have trouble concentrating including watching TV, you are forgetful and your brain feels like it’s in a fog, you can’t seem to even do simple calculations.

Your doctor feels that maybe the experience of beating a deadly disease has some traumatic effects; depressing maybe experiencing a little PTSD and suggests that some counselling could help – you give it a try but unfortunately it doesn’t help.

You are now among the Tens of thousands of people in the United States and Canada who are called “long haulers”! About 50 – 80% of people will continue to have bother some symptoms 3 month after contracting Covid-19, even after tests cannot detect the virus any longer in their body.

Most people who have had COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks. But some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.

Common symptoms include:  

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Joint, Chest & Muscle pain
  • Memory, concentration or sleep problems
  • Headaches
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Dizziness when you stand
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

Because COVID-19 is a new disease that only first appeared in December 2019 there is really no information on long term recovery rates.

Unfortunately, medical experts have not been able to accurately predict who will become a long hauler.  

Some people who have been mildly affected by COVID-19 can still have lingering symptoms, while other people who were extremely sick can be back to normal a couple months later. 

Although COVID-19 is a disease that seems to affect the lungs, it can damage many other organs as well and when this happens there is an increase of long-term health problems. Some of the organs that may be affected include:

  • Heart. Imaging tests taken months after recovery from COVID-19 have shown lasting damage to the heart muscle, even in people who experienced only mild COVID-19 symptoms. This may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.
  • Lungs. The type of pneumonia often associated with COVID-19 can cause long-standing damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue can lead to long-term breathing problems.
  • Brain. Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

There is still a lot of unknowns when it comes to COVID-19 and how it will affect people over time. Researchers are recommending that doctors closely monitor people who have had COVID-19 to see how their organs are functioning after recovery.

There are specialized clinics beginning to open in the larger areas to help provide care for people who have persisting symptoms or related illnesses after recovering from COVID-19.

While most people who have or had COVID-19 recover quickly – the potential for long-lasting problems makes it even more important to reduce the spread by following recommended precautions.