The lasting effects of Covid that can continue for months after you have recovered

By Michelle Cullen

Ireland has now recorded over 1 million cases of Covid-19, and with daily infections remaining high, many have contracted the virus since the pandemic began in 2019.

Although the latest strain of Covid, the Omicron variant, is believed to be less severe and have a faster recovery time than previous strains, it is common to have lasting health symptoms or side effects.

Some people have physical problems such as extreme tiredness or muscle pain. While others can experience mood changes or nightmares, and of course, some have no lasting effects at all.

Adult hand with protective glove with the Test Result by Using self Rapid Test Device for COVID-19 Coronavirus. (gettyimages.ie)

Physical symptoms

According to the HSE, some recovering patients of Covid have reported having lasting physical problems.

These include:

  • muscle weakness and joint stiffness
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue) and a lack of energy
  • reduced mobility
  • breathlessness
  • phlegm build-up
  • weaker physical fitness
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • lack of sense of smell or taste
  • stomach problems - this includes heartburn, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • difficulties swallowing

Some of these symptoms such as phlegm build up can be relieved.

Deep breathing is a simple technique to expand your lungs and help clear your phlegm.

You can do this many times during the day in any place or position.

Make sure you are comfortable and your chest and shoulders are relaxed and follow the steps below.

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  2. Put one hand on your tummy just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath through your nose and let your tummy push your hand out. The hand on your tummy should move more than the hand on your chest.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips like you are whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this breathing three to five times. Take your time with each breath.

Mental and emotional symptoms

The HSE says that others have reported that the virus has impacted their mental and emotional wellbeing.

These include problems such as:

  • sleep problems - this can often develop after being in hospital, where it can be difficult to sleep
  • problems with mental abilities – being forgetful and not being able to remember some events or think clearly
  • changes in your mood, or depression or anxiety
  • nightmares or flashbacks
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • confusion or delirium

Recovery time

Suffering a severe illness such as Covid and spending time in hospital can be extremely stressful.

Some people recover from Covid quicker than others and will not need any additional support. However, others will need more time and help, and unfortunately, it can take months to recover fully.

If you are struggling to cope with your symptoms of Covid, the HSE has advised people to contact their GP or hospital team.


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