Most people who have 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.
Sometimes called “long haulers” or “long COVID,” these patients can have fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and other symptoms long after the time of their infection.
Post-COVID-19 syndrome conditions are generally considered to be effects of COVID-19 that persist for more than four weeks after you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection.
A recent Mayo Clinic study on post-COVID-19 symptoms found that more women than men suffer long-term effects. Women predominantly showed symptoms of fatigue, followed by muscle pain and low blood pressure, while men primarily experienced shortness of breath.
Research is also underway to better understand what may be causing post-COVID-19 syndrome.
“We do have some research now that shows that some of the cells that are used to create immunity after an infection, they may be malfunctioning in this condition in patients with long-haul COVID,” says Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, director of Mayo Clinic’s COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program. “We also now have some research that shows that patients with this condition can have antibodies against themselves, otherwise known as an auto-antibody. And this may be associated with the long-haul COVID state, so immune dysfunction and auto immunity, they may be at play here.”
The COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic helps people experiencing post-COVID-19 syndrome by working with patients to decrease symptoms and improve overall functioning and quality of life.