One recent analysis from China found that 76% of hospitalized patients had at least one symptom six months after they first got sick, most commonly fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, or depression. Many had impaired lung function.
Doctors have found no way to predict which COVID-19 patients will recover quickly and which will not. The ranks of long haulers include people with risk factors for serious COVID-19 like old age, obesity, and diabetes as well as young, healthy athletes. Those who were initially the sickest face the longest recovery and greatest risk of organ damage, doctors said. It’s possible that some people sickened and hospitalized in later waves of the pandemic could fare better because different treatments lessened time on ventilators. Some outpatients have also been able to receive monoclonal antibodies to combat their infections.
Doctors said patients often feel much better after a year than they did at six months. The coughing goes away and sense of smell usually returns. Fatigue gets better, as can some heart problems. Many patients slowly regain strength. That’s why doctors think it’s too early to give up on their extra-long haulers.