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Long-term health consequences after COVID-19
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What are long-term health consequences?
Non-specific symptoms such as fatigue are also seen after other viral infections. For most people, COVID-19 is a mild and transient disease. Disease courses that require admission to an intensive care unit are associated with more long-term problems and increased use of healthcare services. However, it has been reported that some who have otherwise had a mild disease course may experience long-term symptoms.
Among the most commonly reported symptoms after 3 months are fatigue, difficulty sleeping, shortness of breath, and impaired sense of taste and smell. For most people, the symptoms will improve over time, but the frequency and duration of these symptoms are still uncertain.
Long-term effects of COVID-19 (quick overview)
Knowledge of long-term consequences
It is already known that people who are treated for severe respiratory failure in intensive care units for other diseases may struggle with long-term disability after discharge from the hospital, e.g. impaired cognitive function and reduced lung function. Since respiratory failure and long-term intensive treatment occur with severe COVID-19 disease course, similar sequelae can be expected.
However, Norwegian registry studies suggest that severe long-term health consequences that require treatment after a mild to moderate COVID-19 disease course (for both children and adults) are uncommon, but some experience problems that require follow-up from a family doctor. We need more knowledge about long-term health consequences after mild to moderate coronavirus infection.
Currently, there are no established criteria for when a diagnosis of long-term health consequences should be used, or what this entails (how long the symptoms should last, which symptoms are included, etc.).
There is no specific treatment. Any treatment depends on which symptoms or problems are present.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends that anyone who has had a mild or moderate disease course and who, after four weeks, is still experiencing symptoms that make it difficult to participate in everyday life, should contact their family doctor to assess their need for rehabilitation.