How long can I expect it to last if I’m sick with Covid-19?
It depends. Most coronavirus patients experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover quickly. Older or sick patients tend to take longer to recover. That includes people who are obese, hypertensive or with other chronic diseases.
Recovery typically takes two to six weeks, according to the World Health Organization. A study in the United States found that around 20% of patients between 18 and 34 who were not hospitalized, still had symptoms at least two weeks after falling ill. It was the same for almost half of people 50 and older.
Among those who became ill enough to be hospitalized, a study in Italy found that 87% continued to experience symptoms two months after becoming ill. Among those symptoms were fatigue and breathing difficulties.
Chicago-based lung specialist Dr. Khalilah Gates noted that many of her inpatient Covid-19 patients continued to have coughing spells, shortness of breath and fatigue three to four months after becoming infected.
It is difficult to estimate when Covid-19 patients will feel good again, he noted.
“What’s disturbing about all this is that we don’t have all the answers,” said Gates, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
It is also difficult to predict which patients will develop complications once the initial disease subsides.
Covid-19 can affect almost all organs, and long-term complications can include heart inflammation, decreased kidney function, confusion, anxiety, and depression.
It’s not clear if these problems are due to the virus itself or the inflammation it causes, said Dr. Jay Varkey, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University.
“Once you recover from serious illness, it is not necessarily over,” he said.