Long-term effects of COVID-19 (long COVID)


Recovery from coronavirus (COVID-19) can take time. The length of time will vary from person to person. The symptoms can also vary, so not everyone is affected in the same way. It’s important not to compare yourself to others.

To improve your physical and mental health, it’s important you:

  • listen to your body
  • prioritise sleep
  • eat healthily
  • balance activity and rest

Laura’s story

Learn about Laura’s experience of having long COVID and what has helped her.

Chris’s story

Learn about Chris’s recovery journey

Things you can do for yourself

To help with your recovery, you should consider:

  • setting realistic goals, if needed, with the help of your healthcare professional
  • keeping a symptom diary
  • having someone to contact if you’re worried about your symptoms or need more support

There are lots of sources of advice and support. These include:

You can find services near you using Scotland’s Service Directory.

Read about:

Who will be involved in my care?

During your journey, you may see a range of professionals with various specialist skills. They’ll help with different aspects of your recovery.

You may be referred for more specialist advice or help with your rehabilitation and recovery. The team at your GP practice will work with you and arrange any referral to the right service in your local health board. This could include:

  • occupational therapy
  • physiotherapy
  • rehabilitation services
  • clinical psychology and psychiatry

Other specialists may be brought in depending on your specific symptoms, for example:

  • a dietitian
  • an eye specialist
  • a speech and language therapist

How will my care be planned?

Your healthcare professional should always talk about your care with you, so you can agree on it together.

Knowing the right questions to ask can make all the difference.

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

Your healthcare professional may also talk with you about whether you need further appointments to check your progress and recovery.

If your symptoms change, let your healthcare professional know. It could mean you need to be referred to a specialist or have more tests.

Talking about long COVID

Your health is a personal subject. Speaking to your friends, family or colleagues about your symptoms may seem daunting. Only you will know how you would like to handle things. But if people close to you understand how your condition affects you, it’ll help them offer support if you need it.

When talking to others about long COVID, you might want to consider discussing:

  • how living with long COVID makes you feel
  • how long COVID affects the way you carry out your day to day activities
  • how your symptoms may change on a regular basis
  • things that the people around you could help you with
  • how the people around you could provide support

Returning to work

The longer-term effects of coronavirus will be different for everyone. Some people may need time off work. Your return to work will depend on:

  • how you’re feeling
  • the type of job you do
  • the level of flexibility offered by your employer

Further information about returning to work is available, including:

  • how to discuss long COVID with your employer
  • examples of types of adjustments to work duties that can help
  • personal experiences of people who have returned to work living with long COVID

Read the resources:


Social care support

Social care services are available to help people who need support to live independently, including as a result of a health condition.

This could include support with things like:

  • equipment and adaptations to your home
  • personal care
  • community alarms
  • informal supports available within your community

To find out what help you might need, ask your local council’s Social Work department for a free assessment of your care needs. This will help find out what your individual care needs are and how they can be met.

Financial support

You may be worried about your finances after having coronavirus. You may have caring responsibilities. There are resources available to help:

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Advice Line

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Advice Line nurses provide confidential advice, support and information to help people living with long COVID, or their family members.

To contact the Advice Line nurses:

Long COVID charities and peer support

You may find it helpful to connect with other people affected by long COVID to share experiences.

If you’d like to speak to other people affected by long COVID, or are looking for further information on long COVID, you can contact the following charities:

Last updated:
27 November 2023

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