What is long COVID and how do I know I have it?

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 24 Jan 2023

What is long COVID and how do I know I have it?

Long COVID can occur if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 and your symptoms persist for weeks and months after an intense infection of COVID-19.

It’s complex, can manifest with new chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and more.

We answer some common questions about long COVID-19 below.

What is long COVID?

Long COVID is exactly what it says on the tin. People experience COVID-19 symptoms for at least three months from their initial COVID-19 diagnosis.

The exact symptoms will vary from person to person, and in some cases, can even occur in people who initially experienced no COVID-19 symptoms when initially diagnosed.

Early research in Australia estimates that 20% of people who have COVID-19 are still experiencing symptoms after one month and 5% after three months1.

How do I know if I have long COVID?

If your symptoms have remained consistent for more than four weeks after you were initially infected OR if your symptoms have continued after 12 weeks, it is likely that you have long COVID.

The World Health Organisation has said that over 200* different symptoms have been reported that can impact your everyday functioning.

You can also be displaying one or more of the following symptoms below.

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Headaches
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Chest pain
  • Changes in smell or taste

How is long COVID treated?

Unfortunately, as long COVID symptoms vary so differently between people, there are currently no specific criteria or tests to get a diagnosis of long COVID.

Working closely with your general practitioner (GP) means that you can get a personalised approach and referrals to a range of health professionals that can help you.

Some referrals may be made to other health professionals, including:

  • Cardiologists to investigate chest pain
  • Psychologists to support your mental health and wellbeing
  • Respiratory doctors to manage and investigate breathing difficulties while ruling out other lung disease2

Who is likely to get long COVID?

Although long COVID can affect people who had COVID and managed their symptoms at home, there are a range of people who are at increased risk of developing it. These include:

  • People over the age of 35
  • Women
  • Have pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and post-organ transplantation
  • Had severe illness during the time of their COVID-19 infection3

Can I manage long COVID?

With the help of your GP, yes you can.

There are a range of simple treatments that are providing relief to those who are suffering from long COVID, including slowly regaining your fitness, managing fatigue by asking your family and friends for help and doing your most important tasks when you have the most energy.

You can also try to manage your wellbeing at home by having a healthy diet and drinking lots of water.


1Liu B, Jayasundara D, Pye V, Dobbins T, Gore GJ, Matthews G, et al. Whole of population-based cohort study of recovery time from COVID-19 in New South Wales Australia. Lancet Reg Health West Pac. 2021;12(100193), accessed 3 January 2023.

2World Health Organisation, Post COVID-19 condition (Long COVID), accessed 3 January 2023.

3Department of Health, Getting help for Long COVID, accessed 3 January 2023.