Last updated on June 25, 2024.

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About Long COVID

What is Long COVID?

While most people recover from COVID-19 within a few days to a few weeks, some people continue to feel sick for a longer period of time. Sometimes, people will recover from their initial COVID-19 infection and then start to feel sick again. This is known as “Long COVID,” “long-haul COVID,” and “chronic COVID.” 

Recently, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine NASEM) proposed this definition: “Long COVID is an infection-associated chronic condition that occurs after SARS-CoV-2 infection and is present for at least three months as a continuous, relapsing and remitting, or progressive disease state that affects one or more organ systems.” You can find more information about the NASEM Long COVID definition in this one page summary. The full report from NASEM is currently being edited and reviewed.

Many people may experience Long COVID. Studies show that between 5 and 30 percent of COVID-19 survivors in the United States develop Long COVID. According to the April 2024 Census Household Pulse Survey, 16.6% of adult Coloradans report having ever developed Long COVID, while 6.1% of adult Coloradans reported currently experiencing Long COVID.

Some people with Long COVID get better after a few months. Others have serious, ongoing symptoms that make it difficult to go back to work, school, exercise, and other activities. Long COVID symptoms can last months or years. Some people will develop a disability as a result of Long COVID. Long COVID may be considered a legal disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Researchers are still learning more about Long COVID and how long it affects people.

Symptoms of Long COVID

Long COVID symptoms can include (but are not limited to):

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Tiredness or fatigue.
  • Feeling especially tired or sick after exercise or exertion (also known as post-exertional malaise).
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”).
  • Cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fast heartbeat, skipped heartbeats, or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations).
  • Stomach pain.
  • Headache.
  • Joint or muscle pain.
  • Pins-and-needles feeling.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Fever.
  • Dizziness on standing (lightheadedness).
  • Rash.
  • Mood changes (e.g., anxiety and/or depression).
  • Changes in smell or taste.
  • Changes in menstrual periods.

Symptoms can go away and come back over time. The symptoms of Long COVID may be different from the symptoms a person felt when they first had COVID-19.

What causes Long COVID?

Researchers are still learning more about how COVID-19 can lead to Long COVID in some people. There are multiple ways people with COVID-19 can develop Long COVID. In some cases, COVID-19 may damage a person’s cells. Sometimes, the immune system stays active after a person is no longer infected. In other cases, the COVID-19 virus can stay in a person’s body for a long time.

Who is at risk for Long COVID?

Anyone who gets COVID-19 might get Long COVID. However, some people may be at greater risk for Long COVID than others. People who may be at higher risk include:

  • Women
  • Hispanic and Latino people
  • People who did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • People who experienced more severe COVID-19 illness, especially those who were hospitalized or needed intensive care.
  • People with underlying health conditions and adults 65 years or older.
  • People with less access to health care due to health inequities.

Lowering the risk of Long COVID

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 lowers the risk of Long COVID. Some studies suggest that additional doses might lead to greater protection. Other precautions, like washing your hands, wearing a mask, and avoiding indoor crowds, can also help prevent COVID-19 infection.

Diagnosis and treatment

Right now, there is no specific test that can tell you if you have Long COVID. Your health care provider will consider a diagnosis of Long COVID based on your health history and an examination. Your provider may also run tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

You might be diagnosed with Long COVID if:

  • You had a COVID-19 infection.
  • Your symptoms appeared following your COVID-19 infection.
  • Other medical conditions do not explain your symptoms.
  • Your symptoms don’t go away with time and rest.

There is no specific treatment recommended for everyone with Long COVID. You and your health care provider can work together to create a personal care plan to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Treatment for Long COVID varies depending on a person’s symptoms and other health conditions. For example, people with fatigue may benefit from learning how to pace their daily activities to manage their energy, people with brain fog may benefit from focusing on one activity at a time, and people who have trouble sleeping may benefit from improving sleep hygiene. Your provider may prescribe specific medicines to reduce your symptoms.

Long COVID treatment may need to be coordinated among multiple providers. Your primary care provider may connect you with specialists who can help with specific aspects of your illness, such as cardiologists, neurologists, autoimmune specialists, and rehabilitation providers. For other people, working with one doctor who knows them well might be the best choice.

Resources and support

What should I do if I have Long COVID?

If you have symptoms of Long COVID, talking with a health care provider can help you learn more about how to get treatment and manage your symptoms.

The following providers specialize in Long COVID care in Colorado.

Note: This list of providers does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by CDPHE. There may be other providers offering Long COVID care in Colorado that are not listed here.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center’s Post-COVID Clinic
Anschutz Medical Campus, 13001 East 17th Place, Aurora, CO 80045

National Jewish Health’s Center for Post-COVID Care and Recovery
1400 Jackson St., Denver, CO 80206
Call (877) 225-5654 (CALL-NJH) or fill out the online appointment request form.

Family West Health Post COVID Clinic
300 W. Ottley Ave., Fruita, CO 81521
(970) 858-2585

Survivor Corps: Post-COVID care centers in Colorado

Find a national list of Long COVID clinics on the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s website.

Preparing for your appointment can help make sure you get the care you need. CDC has a health care appointment checklist for Long COVID patients that you can fill out before your appointment. 

Support and resources are available from organizations like:

Learn more about managing Long COVID and supporting children living with Long COVID. Additional resources for managing Long COVID are available in the World Health Organization’s pamphlet Support for rehabilitation: self-management after COVID-19-related illness.

If you have any life-threatening symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Mental health resources

To find mental health support, use CDC’s Mental Health Tools and Resources webpage.

You can also call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to talk to someone right away. Colorado Crisis Services provides 24/7 access to behavioral health services regardless of ability to pay. Depending on the reason for your call, you will either be connected to a trained mental health professional, or you can choose to speak with a peer specialist.

More resources


Resources for health care providers

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s (AAPM&R) Multi-Disciplinary Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Collaborative provides guidance for providers on treating:

For information from CDC, visit:

More resources for health care providers include: