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What is long COVID, and how can I protect myself and my community?

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What is long COVID, and how can I protect myself and my community?

The time it takes to get better after COVID-19 is different for everyone, depending on how sick they were with COVID-19 and if they had any other pre-existing health conditions. Some people experience ongoing symptoms after having COVID-19. Even mild cases of COVID-19 can have a lasting impact on people’s health.

Keep reading to learn about the long effects of COVID and what it means for you and your community.

What is long COVID? 

Long COVID is where a person’s COVID-19 symptoms last for four weeks or more after they were first infected with COVID-19. Long COVID can last for many weeks and months, even after a person no longer has the virus.

The symptoms of long COVID can be different for each person. Common symptoms include:

  • tiredness
  • difficulty breathing
  • a persistent cough
  • chest pain
  • joint pain
  • not enough energy to exercise
  • fever
  • headaches
  • problems with memory and difficulty thinking clearly (‘brain fog’)
  • depression or anxiety.

Many long-term side effects from COVID-19 are still not known. This is why it is important that you do everything you can to protect yourself against being infected with the COVID-19 virus, including getting and staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine.

Who can get long COVID?

Long COVID can affect anybody who has been infected with COVID-19. There is research underway in Australia and around the world to try and better understand who is more likely to be at risk of developing symptoms of long COVID.

People who had a mild COVID-19 infection and did not need to go to hospital can still get long COVID. Some studies suggest that up to 1 in 3 people who have had COVID are potentially affected by long COVID. Experts continue to study long COVID to find out how many people are impacted, and to find the best ways to treat and reduce it.

How do I protect myself and my community?

COVID-19 vaccines can help reduce the chance of experiencing long COVID. Make sure you keep up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines to help protect yourself from long COVID.

You can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by getting yourself vaccinated and continuing to follow COVID safe practices, like staying 1.5 metres from others and wearing masks correctly. This leads to fewer people getting infected with COVID-19, reducing the number of people who experience long COVID.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 more than a few weeks ago, and you are still feeling unwell, talk to your doctor.

If you are worried about your symptoms or require more information, visit health.gov.au or call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. Select option 8 for free interpreting services.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.

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