What are the long-term impacts of COVID-19?

You may have seen or heard the term long COVID online or from others. Long COVID is the name given to a condition where people experience symptoms of COVID-19 or lasting effects weeks and months after their initial illness. The Government of Canada also calls this post COVID-19 condition [1]. People may be at risk of long COVID if they have had the COVID-19 virus.

The effects of long COVID

There are a lot of different symptoms for long COVID, but the most common ones include [1]:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sleep issues
  • Shortness of breath
  • Bodily pain in muscles and joints
  • Cognitive challenges like trouble concentrating or difficulty thinking/remembering
  • Mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression

As we mentioned, there have been lots of other symptoms noted, but this depends on each person.

What does this mean for me?

While there is no sure way to diagnose long COVID, if you are experiencing symptoms a long time after your initial illness, you should talk to your doctor.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any information that is specific to long COVID and existing brain injuries. Based on the symptoms listed above, long COVID may impact the effects of brain injury a person is experiencing – but we just don’t have that research yet. There are some research studies in progress related to long COVID and brain injury [2], but it will most likely be a few years before we have concrete study results.

As more information becomes available, we’ll make sure to share it.

Right now, you can learn more about long COVID from the Government of Canada’s info sheet.

The best way to prevent long COVID is to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19

Anything you can do to help reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 will help reduce your risk of long COVID. This includes vaccination and keeping up to date with any recommended booster shots.

[1] The Government of Canada, “Post COVID-19 condition (long COVID)“, 2023

[2] Knoebel Institute fo Healthy Aging, “Linseman Laboratory“, 2023