Skip to content

Call Your Doctor if You Have These COVID Symptoms

"Long COVID" can be debilitating, and researchers don't yet know why it happens.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

An estimated 10 to 30 percent of people who contract COVID-19 have symptoms that don't go away or report new symptoms several weeks after infection. "Long COVID" can be debilitating, and researchers don't yet know why it happens. One thing is clear: even mild cases can result in long COVID. "We know that you don't necessarily have to be hospitalized to get long COVID," said Dr. Anthony Fauci at this week's White House coronavirus task force briefing. "It ranges from people who are mildly to moderately symptomatic to individuals who are actually requiring hospitalization." If you experience these lingering symptoms after the time when the coronavirus has typically cleared the body—four to eight weeks—it's a good idea to call your doctor to ask for advice. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.



Woman suffering from stomach cramps on the sofa at home.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms associated with COVID-19, and it's one of the symptoms that's most likely to become part of long COVID, experts say. "Researchers increasingly see parallels between chronic fatigue syndrome, which affects 1.5 million Americans, and long COVID, the barrage of symptoms including exhaustion, persistent pain and cognitive impairment that can linger for months in some patients," reported this week. "Some research suggests the pandemic could more than triple the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME." 


Brain Fog

Mature woman standing home alone, worried, drinking coffee.

This week, KOMO News profiled a Seattle resident who is dealing with neurological effects of long COVID, including brain fog and occasional speechlessness. "My husband asked me a question and I couldn't answer it," she said. "I started having trouble speaking. I had words in my head and I couldn't say them out loud." She is seeing a speech therapist to cope with those issues.


Headaches or Weakness

Man sitting on bed holding his head.

"Evidence suggests that on entering the central nervous system (CNS), SARS-CoV-2 may infect the brain, directly causing a variety of disorders that can vary from mild to severe," says Neurology Advisor

"Patients experiencing new headaches that are not resolving, focal weakness or sensory loss, loss of balance, or persistent memory problems should bring these to the attention of a specialist," Anna Cervantes-Arslanian, MD, director of neurocritical care at the Boston University School of Medicine, told the journal.


Shortness of Breath

Mature woman having heart attack on stairs, outdoors

According to the CDC, shortness of breath is another common long COVID symptom. As with other frequently reported symptoms, experts aren't sure why this lingers. An Oxford University study published last month suggests a potential reason: in some people—even those who only had mild cases of COVID and were never hospitalized—the coronavirus may damage the lungs and prevent them from fully absorbing oxygen. 


How to Stay Safe Out There

Brunette woman wearing a KN95 FPP2 mask.

Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael