Long Covid: Symptoms, Effects, Causes and Treatment

The term long covid is fast becoming an oft quoted one. But most of us are still unsure about its true nature. According to researchers, long covid refers to the effects of Covid-19 that persist for weeks or months after the initial infection. The global healthcare community identifies long covid as a condition that lasts for more than 12 weeks. However, there are other medical researchers who consider symptoms lasting for more than eight weeks as long covid.

Research done on those reporting symptoms of long covid, shows two main classifications of symptoms. The first is mostly respiratory symptoms, along with fatigue and headaches, while the second affects multiple parts of the body, including the heart, brain and the gut. Heart symptoms like palpitations or increased heartbeat, as well as pins and needles, numbness and ‘brain fog’ were also reported. Currently, a number of research studies are being done to further investigate the long-term effects of the disease.


The most commonly reported symptoms of long covid are –

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint and chest pain

Other less reported symptoms of long covid are –

  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Intermittent fever
  • Heart palpitations, or pounding of the heart
  • Hair loss
  • Rash

In some cases, Covid-19 infected individuals also developed long-term complications that affect their organs.  

Also read: Long Covid: All You Need to Know

Such complications are less common but may include-

  • Inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Abnormal lung function
  • Kidney function problems
  • Issues with smell and taste
  • Sleeplessness
  • Difficulty with memory and concentration 
  • Anxiety and mood alterations

If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms consult a doctor online on DocGenie, now.

Possible causes

Factors that lead to the prolonged effects of Covid-19 are yet to be fully identified by researchers. However, some of the probable causes of long covid are-

  • Diminished or lack of response from immune system
  • Relapse or re-infection of the virus
  • Inflammation 
  • Change in physical function due to bed rest or inactivity
  • Post-traumatic stress

According to findings of recently concluded studies and research, the persistent problems associated with long covid could be the outcome of injury to multiple organs, like the lungs, heart, and brain.

Moreover, research made by National Institute for Health Research indicates the likelihood of symptoms described by people as a combined effect of different syndromes, including post-intensive care syndrome, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and long-term or post-Covid-19 syndrome. It is also possible that some patients might be experiencing more than one syndrome at the same time.

To know more about long covid and its effects on body organs, book a session with one of the top GPs on DocGenie.

Also read: Post COVID-19 Complications: What You Should Know


To diagnose long covid, medical practitioners generally take a full medical history and assess all Covid-19 symptoms, right from the onset of the infection to the current symptoms. The doctor may check the following –

  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Heart rate 
  • Lung and breathing function

It is important to note that till now, there exists no specific test to diagnose long covid. Doctors typically do tests to eliminate any other potential causes of the symptoms. Also tests recommended by doctors may vary on the symptoms exhibited by the person and may involve blood tests to check –

  • Full blood count
  • Electrolytes
  • Kidney function
  • Liver function
  • Troponin, test for heart muscle damage
  • Inflammation levels
  • Muscle damage
  • D-dimer, to check that no blood clots are present
  • Heart health
  • Iron levels
  • Chest X-ray
  • Urine test
  • Electrocardiogram, to check for heart problems


Long covid symptoms may be helped by following the below mentioned steps –

  • Taking over-the-counter non-harmful medicines, to relieve pain or fever
  • Resting and relaxing by getting adequate sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Not smoking

However, since symptoms of long covid vary, there must be individualized treatment plans, as a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be taken in this case. Such plans might include key and long-term lifestyle changes.

To monitor the long term ramifications of the infection closely, doctors need to get to know their patients, their baseline before covid and the changes that are happening after, document sym, these and monitor them over time while staying alert to new or red flag symptoms.

If long covid is affecting your mental health, or social well-being, get in touch with a psychiatrist at the earliest. You can book an online session with one of the top psychiatrists of the country on DocGenie website.

When and how to seek help

Those experiencing long covid should immediately call an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital if they experience any of the following symptoms –

  • Worsening breathlessness 
  • Sudden and unexplained chest pain
  • Severe confusion or weakness
  • New or sudden changes in vision, hearing, or speech
  • Or even a new or sudden feeling of “not being well”


The recovery period of long covid is still not fully identified by researchers. Studies indicate that symptoms may persist for 60–90 days after the initial infection, if not longer. Also one may continue to feel tired for up to six months. Researchers and healthcare professionals are constantly working to comprehend the causes, treatment alternatives and possible recovery times.

Also read: Your complete guide to the three Covid-19 vaccines available in India

DocGenie is an online telemedicine platform that provides you with quality healthcare from the comfort of your own space. On DocGenie, you can book an online consultation with highly-qualified doctors as well as book lab tests for home collection.