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Living with long COVID-19

A group of older adults smiles down at the camera.

COVID-19 usually lasts a few days or weeks. But some people experience what's known as long COVID-19. For those long haulers, new or lasting symptoms might continue or recur for months.

If you're living with long COVID-19—or any chronic condition—adjusting to life with long-term symptoms like fatigue, breathing troubles or anxiety can be a challenge. Those symptoms can affect your daily life in many ways. This advice from HelpGuide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other experts can help you cope.

Coping with long COVID-19

Long COVID-19 is linked to many symptoms. Some of the most common include fatigue, anxiety, depression and what's known as "brain fog." Those symptoms can make it harder to enjoy the activities that matter to you. But you can take steps to manage them.

Connect with support. Staying connected with friends and family and enjoying social activities may improve your mood and emotional well-being. A support group may be a good option too. Talking to people who have had similar experiences—and who know just what you're going through—can help too. Look online or in your community to find support for people with long COVID-19 or with other chronic conditions.

Manage your fatigue. To work on feeling better rested, find a balance between physical activity and rest. That means you shouldn't overdo it. But exercise can boost your energy, and setting a regular pattern for getting more active can help.

Another way to manage fatigue is by getting better rest. A bedtime routine can help you unwind and improve your sleep. Try playing music or taking a hot bath. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, may also help.

Discover new ways to enjoy your life. Make sure to pursue activities that let you have some fun. Learning something new or picking up a hobby you've neglected can help you find joy.

Make healthy choices. Limit sugar and caffeine, which may contribute to anxiety. Other steps to boost your health can help you feel better—and may help you manage your symptoms. To help yourself stay as healthy as possible:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Avoid alcohol.

Talk to your doctor. Let your doctor know what you are experiencing. That includes your symptoms and what makes them better or worse. Before you see the doctor, it can help to write down what you want to tell them. Also write down what they tell you during the appointment—or bring a friend or family member with you so they can help you remember.

Recognize severe symptoms

Seek medical help right away if you experience:

  • Chest pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Severe sleepiness.
  • A significant change in weight.

Get help for depression and anxiety

Managing a long-term illness can affect your mood. And long COVID-19 is linked to depression and anxiety. Treatment can help. Our depression and anxiety assessments can help you decide if it's time to reach out.

Reviewed 4/10/2023

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