For some people, COVID-19 infection doesn’t end after a few weeks. In cases of Post-COVID or Long COVID, somebody can experience ongoing symptoms for weeks or even months after recovering from COVID-19.
Post-COVID conditions and persistent symptoms vary and may include coughing. Read on to learn more about post-COVID coughs and what you can do to alleviate them.
How long does COVID-19 last?
Most mild to moderate illnesses caused by COVID-19 last for around two weeks. However, some people have reported effects like chronic fatigue syndrome, coughs, cognitive impairment and even mental health problems for weeks or months after their supposed recovery, affecting their daily life.
Understanding Post-COVID conditions
Post-COVID, sometimes known as Long COVID, comprises a range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems experienced more than four weeks after COVID-19 recovery. Commonly reported symptoms include muscle pain, fatigue, and coughing.
Post-COVID syndrome sufferers can experience symptoms for weeks or even months after recovering from COVID-19, which lowers their quality of life. People suffering from Post-COVID are more likely to contract a severe illness, and brain fog may give them a tough time focusing at school or work.
Causes of Post-COVID conditions
There’s no clear answer to what causes Post-COVID. However, experts put forward three theories that link COVID-19 to Post-COVID conditions. The COVID-19 virus:
- Forms blood clots and damages blood vessels in patients’ lungs
- Leaves particles in patients’ bodies, even after recovery
- Destabilizes the patients’ immune systems, causing them to stay on high alert
While we don’t know the exact link between COVID-19 and Post-COVID, we know that even mild coronavirus disease can cause it. That’s why we should still be vigilant and reduce our risk of catching COVID-19.
Post-COVID risk factors
We can’t accurately identify Post-COVID risk factors because experts haven’t found what exactly causes the condition. However, since Post-COVID syndrome comes from COVID-19 infection, we can assume the same risk factors for the former:
- Advanced age
- Lung issues
- Heart disease
- Nervous system issues
- High blood pressure
- Other underlying health problems
General Post-COVID symptoms
If you can identify the most common symptoms of Post-COVID conditions, you can determine whether or not to seek immediate treatment.
Generally, if you have mild symptoms of Long COVID, you don’t have to go to the hospital and can just call your healthcare provider. However, if you experience severe symptoms, you need to seek care immediately.
Post-COVID conditions have some symptoms in common with the initial COVID infection. Here are some frequent symptoms of Long COVID defined by the World Health Organization. Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list, so contact healthcare providers if you experience other symptoms not listed here.
- Extreme fatigue or consistent tiredness
- Post-exertional malaise (additional symptoms of Post-COVID conditions that appear after physical or mental effort)
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Sore throat
Mental and neurological symptoms
- Brain fog or cognitive difficulties
- Loss of smell or taste
- Negative thoughts, anxiety and depression
- Sleeping difficulties
Lung and heart symptoms
- Chronic or persistent coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Stomach pain
Identifying and treating Post-COVID symptoms
If you experience any symptoms listed above, we encourage you to contact a healthcare provider. If necessary, medical examinations like blood tests and electrocardiograms can identify the issue so doctors can create a treatment plan.
Unfortunately, some long-haul COVID sufferers may experience long-term symptoms from this syndrome. Some people diagnosed with Post-COVID experience reduced cognitive functions, muscle weakness and persistent depression months after the fact. Seek intensive care if you feel these effects may seriously impact your quality of life.
Coughing is a very common symptom of COVID-19 infection. That said, many former COVID-19 patients suffer from a chronic cough four weeks after recovery.
Fortunately, most healthcare providers say that this lingering cough isn’t contagious and not life-threatening. However, persistent coughing fits may be uncomfortable for you and others.
The cause of Post-COVID coughs
COVID-19 inflames the mucus membranes in your throat and bronchial tubes, which may take some time to heal even after testing negative. Research suggests this residual inflammation causes cough reflexes in former COVID-19 patients.
As annoying as it is, a lingering Post-COVID cough isn’t entirely bad. A cough reflex is your body’s way of clearing your respiratory tract of things that shouldn’t be there, such as dying cells and extra mucus. When you cough, you expel these things from your throat so you can breathe clearly.
COVID-19 lung damage
COVID-19 does damage your lungs. However, just like other body parts, your lungs will eventually recover. Most people’s lungs take between 3 and 18 months to return to their pre-COVID state.
Like most Long COVID symptoms, the degree of lung damage may differ between people. Three things influence the degree of lung damage and recovery speed:
- COVID-19 infection severity: Mild illness from COVID-19 probably won’t leave lasting damage, while a severe illness that involves hospitalization may deal more lung damage.
- Treatment time: A person who gets treatment as soon as they exhibit mild symptoms typically suffers fewer lung issues than somebody who waits for symptoms to worsen.
- Overall health: Somebody with pre-existing medical conditions or a weak immune system may take longer to recover from lung damage.
Symptoms of Post-COVID coughs
While Post-COVID coughs aren’t caused by a viral infection and are therefore not contagious, it’s still a good idea to stay vigilant and seek treatment if you think it’ll be an issue.
Here are some notable symptoms of Post-COVID coughs to watch out for:
Severe illness from COVID-19 may result in lasting or permanent damage to your lungs. Even mild infections can sometimes lead to trouble breathing and chest pain. Depending on your overall health, it can take months or even over a year for your lungs to recover.
Post-COVID coughing comes in two types:
- Dry cough: A cough that doesn’t produce phlegm or mucus, typically caused by viral infections
- Wet or productive cough: A cough that produces phlegm or mucus, usually caused by bacterial infections
Dry coughing is the most common COVID-19 symptom, but many patients also report wet coughs.
Coughs are hard to stop because coughs also cause irritation and inflammation despite being meant to clear them. When you cough once, the extra irritation makes you want to cough again, possibly leading to a coughing fit.
Here’s what you can do to stop a cough:
- Take deep breaths through your nose.
- Close your mouth, then swallow.
- Suck on hard candies.
- Sip a warm drink.
Treating Post-COVID coughs
Lingering coughs are annoying and can make others around you nervous, even if you’re not contagious. Here are some things you can try to minimize a post-COVID chronic cough:
- Take over-the-counter cough medicine.
- Stay hydrated and drink a lot of fluids.
- Add honey to your warm drinks.
- Avoid cigarette smoke.
- Do controlled coughing to clear mucus and free your airways.
- Perform 30 minutes of aerobic and deep breathing exercises daily to increase blood flow.
If the chronic cough continues for weeks or months, visit a doctor to identify other possible causes. If the lung damage is severe, your doctor may recommend pulmonary rehabilitation.
Post-COVID recovery journey
While our understanding of Post-COVID grows every day, it is a relatively new condition, so there aren’t any reliable medications or concrete solutions for it. Right now, the most we can do is improve the patient’s quality of life through the Post-COVID mental and physical recovery journey:
1. Understanding your symptoms
Your journey starts by understanding your symptoms – this allows you and your doctor to co-create a treatment plan that suits your needs. The main goal of your recovery journey is to manage long-term COVID-19 symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Depending on their symptoms and ongoing health problems, different people may need different treatment approaches.
2. Managing your stress
Being sick with COVID-19 is stressful, and the stress may linger even after recovery. Stress management is another large part of recovering from COVID-19 because high stress may worsen Long COVID symptoms.
Experts recommend these coping strategies to manage stress:
- Performing meditation and mindfulness exercises
- Doing breathing exercises
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating healthy foods and following a balanced diet
- Avoiding cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
- Talking about and sharing issues with trusted friends or therapists
- Scheduling rest periods throughout the day
3. Treating symptoms of Post-COVID conditions
COVID-19 symptoms may linger for weeks or months after you test positive. Here are some treatments to manage symptoms of Post-COVID conditions:
Chronic fatigue symptoms
- Performing frequent endurance, strength and aerobic training
- Implementing energy management strategies throughout the day
- Doing stimulating cognitive exercises
- Increasing neural activity through physical exertion
- Assessing heart health with a cardiovascular specialist
- Implementing a cardiac rehabilitation regimen
4. Managing mental health issues
COVID-19 infection can affect your mental health, especially if you experience loss or other stressors. This mental health decline may lead to serious issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
If you experience mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder after being infected with COVID-19, we recommend seeking treatment from professionals or joining a COVID-19 support group to cope with the aftereffects healthily.
5. Preventing reinfection
Despite former COVID-19 patients having extra antibodies, reinfection is still a possibility. That’s why you should still follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines, such as:
- Getting vaccinated
- Testing for COVID-19 if you experience symptoms
- Avoiding contact with active COVID-19 cases
- Wearing masks in public
- Improving room ventilation or holding outdoor activities
Post-COVID care with RT Medical
RT Medical has a dedicated Post-COVID recovery clinic for patients to manage ongoing health problems and symptoms to improve their quality of life after COVID-19 recovery. We offer personalized healthcare plans that are created to meet your specific requirements based on a thorough health examination.
We aim to minimize the burden of Post-COVID through one-on-one specialized care offered by interdisciplinary healthcare professionals. Start your Post-COVID recovery journey with a comprehensive package containing:
- A welcome call with our virtual concierge to answer preliminary questions
- A comprehensive health assessment with our registered Nurse Practitioners specializing in Post-COVID virtual examinations
- Referrals for blood tests, chest X-rays and other diagnostic tests, if necessary
- A medicine prescription redeemable at your chosen pharmacy
- Referrals to specialist doctors if necessary
- A personalized healthcare plan containing symptom management regimens and suggested treatments
- A follow-up appointment with Post-COVID Nurse Practitioners
- A flexible schedule so you can receive care at any time
Coughs are one of the most common symptoms of Post-COVID. While they’re typically not contagious, chronic coughing fits are bothersome and can make others around you nervous. Staying hydrated, taking over-the-counter medicine and practicing your breathing can help you manage your Post-COVID cough symptoms.
Postcovid.ca is here to assist in your recovery from COVID-19 and Post-COVID. Our virtual clinic offers specialized remote healthcare from trained professionals from the comfort of your home. Schedule a free call today to start your journey to full COVID-19 recovery!
Post-COVID cough treatment FAQs
Who can catch Post-COVID syndrome?
Anybody who’s been infected with COVID-19 can catch Post-COVID syndrome, regardless of severity and vaccination status. However, people with pre-existing medical issues, who aren’t vaccinated or who work with COVID-19 patients tend to have a higher risk of Post-COVID.
Are Post-COVID coughs contagious?
Unlike COVID-19 coughs, Post-COVID coughs are generally not contagious. However, frequent coughing fits can still hurt your throat and should be treated if your condition doesn’t improve.
Do I need to see a doctor if I have Post-COVID?
You don’t have to see a doctor if you exhibit mild symptoms of Post-COVID. However, if you experience severe symptoms a few weeks after COVID-19 infection, we recommend going to an intensive care unit.
How long does Post-COVID last?
Post-COVID can last weeks or even months after your initial COVID-19 infection, depending on the severity of your illness and other factors.
Do COVID-19 vaccines prevent Long COVID?
COVID-19 vaccines do not specifically prevent Long COVID. However, people with COVID-19 breakthrough infections report less severe long-haul COVID symptoms.
When will we fully understand COVID-19?
While we learn new things about COVID-19 regularly, we don’t know when researchers will fully understand the disease. That said, existing precautions and treatments are considered effective in protecting us from COVID-19.