What We Know About Long COVID's Impact On Health And The Body

Long COVID is a condition that occurs around three months after the onset of COVID-19 infection, according to Yale Medicine. Fortune reported that it affects 31% to 69% of patients with COVID-19, causing lingering symptoms that can last anywhere from two months to a year. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, body aches, and loss of taste and smell. If these symptoms look familiar, it's because they are many of the same signs of regular COVID-19 infection.

These are not the only potential symptoms of long COVID, however. Some people also experience cognitive dysfunction — like brain fog, memory loss, and depression — and cardiovascular issues (via Yale Medicine). "After you have had COVID-19, if you are experiencing a rapid heartbeat or palpitations you should contact your doctor," cardiology professor Dr. Wendy Post wrote in an article for Johns Hopkins Medicine. While there is currently no cure or uniform treatment for long COVID, researchers are in the process of studying the long-term effects of the condition.

Who's at risk?

Although research is scarce, scientists may be able to predict who is most at risk of developing long COVID. According to Health, there are certain risk factors that can make someone more susceptible. A study published in the journal Cell found that long COVID is more likely to occur among people who have type 2 diabetes, an active infection of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a high viral load, and the presence of certain antibodies that target proteins in the body.

Although much is still unknown about long COVID, including the exact cause, this study helps provide more insight into the condition. "This is the beginning of truly understanding the complexities of long COVID," Donald J. Alcendor, an associate professor in microbiology, immunology, and physiology at Meharry Medical College, told Medical News Today. "There is a rationale with some of these blood markers, and to take this study to scale would only amplify its significance to the body of knowledge being developed to better understand post-COVID syndrome."