Post COVID-19 condition (long COVID)

On this page

About

Some people still experience physical or psychological symptoms more than 12 weeks after getting COVID-19. This is called post COVID-19 condition (also known as long COVID).

Post COVID-19 condition may occur in some people weeks or months after their initial infection. People who have been hospitalized or who needed intensive care during recovery appear to be at greater risk of experiencing longer-term effects. Post COVID-19 condition is also observed in people who didn't have symptoms or had only mild to moderate symptoms during initial infection.

People may experience post COVID-19 condition symptoms even if they weren't formally tested and diagnosed with COVID-19. This may have been due to limited testing capacity during the pandemic.

Post COVID-19 condition is not COVID-19. Symptoms can be quite different from those experienced during the initial infection. It refers to the longer-term effects some people experience after their COVID-19 infection.

The condition can impact both adults and children. Symptoms can sometimes disappear and reappear without having another diagnosis to explain them. Some patients report that over-exertion (both mental and physical) may make the condition worse.

Symptoms

Adults

Post COVID-19 condition can impact people in different ways. There have been reports of more than 100 symptoms or difficulties with everyday activities.

The most common symptoms that we know of in adults include:

  • fatigue
  • memory problems
  • sleep disturbances
  • shortness of breath
  • anxiety and depression
  • general pain and discomfort
  • difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Based on early published reports in 2020, the World Health Organization estimates that at least 10% to 20% of people had 1 or more symptoms 12 weeks or longer after their initial diagnosis. These symptoms may be new or have persisted since their initial COVID-19 infection.

More recent research shows about 30% to 40% of people who weren't hospitalized for their initial COVID-19 infection still report symptoms beyond 12 weeks. Current evidence suggests that post COVID-19 condition is higher among those who were hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to those who weren't hospitalized. This percentage may change as more evidence emerges.

Children

The most common symptoms that we know of in children include:

  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • lack of concentration, cognitive difficulties or delirium (confused or disoriented mental state)
  • headaches
  • abdominal pain
  • muscle aches and pains or joint pains
  • sleep problems

There's still a lot that we don't know about post COVID-19 condition in children. Research about how often it occurs in children is still underway and we currently only have a small number of studies to analyze. These estimates will become more precise as further studies are conducted and new evidence emerges.

Mental health

Individuals experiencing post COVID-19 condition commonly report impacts on their mental health, including anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Talk to your health care provider if you think that you may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression or PTSD. Health professionals can help you get the support you need.

You or someone you know may be in crisis or need mental health and substance use support. If this is the case, visit Wellness Together Canada for a wide range of resources and supports.

Prevention, diagnosis and treatment

The best way to currently prevent post COVID-19 condition is to take measures to avoid getting infected. This includes measures like getting vaccinated (including boosters) and following public health measures. Early evidence suggests that vaccination with 2 or more doses may help reduce the risk of developing post COVID-19 condition if infected. Canada continues to monitor new developments to learn more about other preventive measures that can be taken.

There's currently no universally agreed-upon approach to diagnose and treat post COVID-19 condition. If you think you have post COVID-19 condition, talk to your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms.

Learn more about:

What Canada's doing

Canada is reviewing published studies on post COVID-19 condition to identify:

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) also collaborated with Statistics Canada on a new population-based Canadian COVID-19 Antibody and Health Survey launched in April 2022. The survey is being sent to 100,000 randomly selected Canadians aged 18 years and older across the 10 provinces, and will be used to:

We continue to:

We're also working with other partners to gather evidence to support our research, like the:

Canadians suffering from post COVID-19 condition and who are unable to work because of their symptoms may be eligible for support through:

Related links

Publications and information

Support groups

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: