Assessing long COVID symptoms
If your healthcare professional thinks you have long COVID, they may:
- take a medical history and ask about whether you have had, or think you have had, coronavirus (COVID-19)
- examine you to find out more about any physical or mental health symptoms you have if required
If you need it, please ask about extra support during your assessment. For example having extra time for your appointment or having an interpreter. Your healthcare professional may ask to include your family or carers in discussions. They'll agree this with you.
How your symptoms will be assessed
Your healthcare professional will talk to you about the wide range of possible long COVID symptoms, and how they may come and go over time. They may suggest some tests – for example a blood test.
You'll generally be able to manage most of your symptoms on your own but you may need some help from your primary care team. Your primary care team could include a:
- occupational therapist
In some cases, you may be referred for more specialist advice.
If you have a severe mental health condition or your healthcare professional is concerned that you're at risk of serious self-harm or suicide, you'll be referred urgently for assessment by a mental health professional.
You may be referred urgently to hospital if you have any signs that could be a life-threatening condition, for example:
- a low level of oxygen in your blood
- severe lung disease
- chest pain
Your healthcare professional may carry out some tests to investigate your signs and symptoms. This will also help them rule out other conditions. As a general rule, the healthcare professional who arranges your test will also discuss with you how you'll receive your results.
Tests may include:
- blood tests
- an exercise tolerance test suited to your ability (for example a 1 minute sit-to-stand test)
- lying and standing blood pressure and heart rate
- pulse oximetry (a sensor is attached to your finger to measure oxygen levels)
- a chest X-ray if you still have breathing difficulties (for example a cough or breathlessness)
If you have mental health symptoms such as anxiety or depression, you may be referred:
- for psychological therapies
- to a liaison psychiatry service if you have more complex physical and mental health needs
If your healthcare professional thinks your symptoms are not related to coronavirus and may be due to another condition, you may be offered other tests. You may also be referred to a specialist in that condition.
We encourage you to ask questions about your condition and your treatment and care options. It’s ok for you to ask your healthcare professionals the BRAN questions:
- What are the Benefits?
- What are the Risks?
- What are the Alternatives?
- What would happen if I did Nothing?
Your healthcare professional should explain to you the benefits and risks of your available options. They should also discuss the option of doing nothing and what effects this could have. You should expect to be given enough information and time to make up your mind.
By asking these questions you will be able to make an informed choice about the treatment and care that’s right for you.
After your assessment
After your assessment, your healthcare professional will discuss with you and agree on what support you need and how you can get it. To work out what support you need and make a plan with you about your recovery, your healthcare professional will talk to you about:
- the overall impact of your symptoms on your life
- how your symptoms may change or come and go
- how you might need different levels of support at different times
The information on this page is for people aged 18 and over. Contact your GP or paediatric team directly if you're worried about possible long COVID symptoms in a child or young person under 18.
23 November 2022
Help us improve NHS inform
Feedback Alert Title