Contracting COVID-19 is a distressing experience that affects people differently, meaning you may have different care and wellbeing needs to others.
Although most people who have a mild case of COVID-19 recover quickly, around one in ten patients will report prolonged symptoms that can last for several weeks or even months. These symptoms can include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Chest pain
- Memory problems
- Low mood / anxiety
Post-COVID Syndrome (Long-COVID)
If your symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis, you might be required to have further assessments or tests. You may also require a follow-up appointment in specialist clinics, particularly if you have required a hospital stay as a result of contracting COVID-19. Post-Covid-19 Syndrome (Long-COVID) usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, which can fluctuate and change over time and can affect any system in the body.
What can I do to manage my recovery?
There are various things you can do to aid your recovery from COVID-19. Nurse Specialist Claire Adams, the Respiratory Clinical Lead for Tees Valley CCG, explains these in the video below:
Lots of self-help guidance is available online, including the NHS Your COVID Recovery website, which contains information on managing the effects of COVID-19, your wellbeing, and your road to recovery.
The NHS Eat Well website also provides useful tips on eating a balanced diet, which will help you recover. Avoiding junk food, caffeine and alcohol will also help.
Quitting smoking will also have a positive impact on your recovery, and is one of the single most important things you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Support with quitting smoking is available on the NHS Better Health website, and to find details of local services that can help you quit visit NHS Smokefree.
Tees Valley CCG with local partners have developed a selection of patient information leaflets to help you manage and pace your recovery:
Getting back to work after a COVID-19 infection
After the stresses – both physical and psychological – of suffering a COVID-19 infection and/or Long-COVID, it can be tough to get back to work. You may still be struggling with day-to-day activities but need to work for financial or social reasons. With COVID-19, it is best to stay off work until you are well enough, but with the right support, it may be possible to return on a phased or partial basis as part of your recovery if you feel fit enough for some duties.
Occupational Health Professionals and the Trade Union Congress have produced a helpful guide for workers (and employers) on how to manage absence and get back to work after COVID-19 infection and Long-COVID. Read their returning to work guide here.
When to seek further support
If you are concerned that your symptoms are deteriorating, and have viewed the self-help guidance available online, you should seek medical advice. There are several ways you can do this:
- Contact your GP: Due to the ongoing pandemic, GPs will offer a telephone consultation first, but if during the call, they feel that you need to attend a face-to-face appointment, they will arrange this.
- NHS 111 Service: Call 111 to speak to an adviser, or fill out the NHS 111 webform.
If you begin to develop symptoms such as worsening shortness of breath, new chest pain, confusion or weakness of a limb or your face, you must seek urgent medical attention by calling 999.
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to ensure you receive your vaccination as soon as the NHS contacts you, even if you have already had the virus, because we don’t yet know how long natural immunity lasts, and there have been cases where people have had COVID-19 more than once. You should also remember that vaccinations require two appointments, so ensure to attend both.
When you are contacted by the NHS to book your vaccine appointment, you may find that you are asked to attend your appointment at a Mass Vaccination Centre. Please be assured that if you do not wish to travel to a Mass Vaccination Centre, you can opt to wait for an invitation from your GP.
There are lots of rumours about COVID-19 vaccinations which might deter you from attending your appointments, but please be assured that vaccinations are safe, and any side effects that you might experience will be minor compared to the effects of the virus itself. For a list of common misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines, please read this helpful article on our website.
Please be aware that having the vaccine does not mean you will no longer transmit the virus to others, so you should continue to follow social distancing and mask guidelines after you have been vaccinated. For more information on when you will be eligible to receive the vaccine, and other frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ section.