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What is Post-COVID Syndrome?

Post-COVID Syndrome
by: Post-COVID Support Team

November 1, 2022

Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID, long-haul COVID, Post-COVID condition, or Post-Acute COVID Sequelae (PASC), is marked by persistent symptoms or new symptoms that develop at least four to eight weeks after COVID-19 infection.

Do you suffer from Post-COVID? Start your Recovery

About Post-Covid

COVID-19 is an infectious coronavirus disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Most people who have been infected with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate illness and recover without special treatment. Some people experience severe symptoms and require medical attention.

About 10% to 30% of people infected with COVID-19 will experience lingering symptoms well beyond the acute phase of the illness. Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID, long-haul COVID, Post-COVID condition, or Post-Acute COVID Sequelae (PASC), is marked by persistent symptoms or new symptoms that develop at least four to eight weeks after COVID-19 infection.

Post-COVID can include the continuation of symptoms that occurred when a person was first sick, such as shortness of breath, fatigue and brain fog/cognitive impairment. It can also involve a wide range of debilitating problems in the heart, brain, lungs, gut and other organs. In certain cases, symptoms can persist indefinitely after the initial infection. Occasionally, they may appear months after recovery or can even arise in patients who were asymptomatic.


What causes Post-COVID?

SARS-CoV-2 can attack the body in a range of ways, causing damage to the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys, liver, and other organs. There are a few current theories related to the immune system and the manifestations of Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID. All are unproven at this point, and research is ongoing. Ultimately there may be several explanations for the different groups of symptoms.

The two leading theories are that symptoms are driven by the immune system, or by the persistence of the virus in the body. Importantly, these are not mutually exclusive, and it is likely that both factors are at play and interconnected, together with a number of other mechanisms.

The immune theory suggests that COVID-19 turns the immune system against the body. Theories linked to viral persistence suggest that the virus can remain in the body and brain long after acute infection, and its genetic material can persist up to 230 days after symptoms arise.

It’s not fully understood what these so-called “viral reservoirs” do in the body, but this may continue to injure tissues directly, or they may do nothing at all. Post-COVID is not fully understood and research is ongoing and patterns in the data are steadily emerging.

Our interdisciplinary team will continue to monitor the best medical science available while working with top experts in the field to ensure we are delivering the most up-to-date and effective care possible for our patients.

Who is getting Post-COVID?

It is not yet known who will develop Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID. However, current research identifies who is at higher risk. Women are up to four times more likely to develop Post-COVID than men. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, previous infections with the Epstein Barr Virus (such as mononucleosis) and people with autoimmune diseases are at an increased risk of Post-COVID. Vaccination reduces the risk of Post-COVID by 50%. While people who experience severe COVID-19 illness can develop Post-COVID, those with mild COVID-19 infection may also be impacted. As more research is conducted, we will better understand who develops Post-COVID and why.

How do I know if I have Post-COVID?

Long covid is a complex multifactorial illness that is characterized by a range of symptoms that can cause problems in multiple organs and body systems at once. Symptoms of Post-COVID can mimic other health conditions. In fact, these symptoms sometimes result from an undiagnosed health condition or an underlying condition that was triggered by COVID-19. We understand that effective treatments begin with a precise diagnosis. Our team uses the latest evidence to rule out other undiagnosed medical conditions and conclude a Post-COVID diagnosis.

How long is recovery?

Every person’s journey is different and follows a different course. For many, symptoms tend to improve in three to six months, but others may experience severe complications twelve months or more from their initial infection.

While there is currently no single medication or treatment to cure Post-COVID, also known as Long COVID, having a personalized health care plan and management strategies tailored to your specific symptoms can significantly improve your quality of life and lower the burden of Post-COVID as you work towards recovery.

As Post-COVID remains complicated and misunderstood, our team is working hard to get patients the best possible information and treatment to help manage this difficult condition.

As Canada’s only national Post-COVID clinic, our interdisciplinary team is here to help you in this journey.

Post-COVID Diagnostics

Depending on your symptoms and what previous diagnostic workup you may have received, our Nurse Practitioners (NPs) will decide what tests you may require. Some examples of diagnostic tests our NPs may recommend include blood work, X-Rays, CTs, lung function tests and more.

Make an appointment with a member of our interdisciplinary healthcare team today. Start your Recovery