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Long COVID-19: A simple tool may help you find answers

A woman sits at a table writing in a journal.

Some people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 continue to have a variety of challenging symptoms months after first being infected. These are often called long COVID-19 or post-COVID conditions.

There isn't a test for long COVID-19. But if you think you might have it, let your doctor know. Helping your doctor understand your symptoms and what it's like to live with them can help you get the right diagnosis and treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And there's a low-tech tool that can be a big help to you both as you search for answers.

How a journal may help

A journal can be a good way to keep track of your symptoms and experiences with long COVID-19 symptoms. This may come in handy when it's time to see your doctor, especially for the first time. In it, you can write down:

  • When you first had symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Any symptoms that started after your illness and when they began.
  • How often you have symptoms.
  • How your symptoms affect your daily activities, like working, going to school and running a household.
  • What, if anything, makes your symptoms better or worse.
  • How you've been coping emotionally.
  • What your best and worst days are like.
  • A list of any medicines you are taking, including vitamins and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any treatments you've tried for your symptoms.
  • Any relevant medical tests you've had and the results.

During your appointment, your doctor also will take your medical history. This refers to any other health problems you have or have had in the past. And you might need some tests, which may look for other possible causes of your symptoms.

Keep journaling your experience

If you are diagnosed with long COVID-19, your doctor may suggest ways to help treat your symptoms. It's a great idea to keep your journal going throughout this process. Doing so may help you spot patterns in your symptoms, see how well certain treatments are working and know if your condition is improving.

Here are some things you might keep track of:

  • Whether any of your symptoms have gotten better.
  • Any treatments that seemed to improve your symptoms.
  • Any side effects of your treatments.
  • Any new symptoms or changes in your symptoms.
  • An updated list of your medicines and supplements.

Take your journal with you to each visit so you and your doctor can review any updates together.

Reviewed 9/6/2022

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