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Long COVID is real—here’s how patients can get treatment and support


Mar 22, 2024

New long COVID treatment options may be on the horizon.

What you need to know

  • There is still no single, FDA-approved treatment for long COVID, but doctors can help patients manage individual symptoms.

  • Long COVID patients may be eligible for government benefits that can ease financial burdens.

  • Getting reinfected with COVID-19 can worsen existing long COVID symptoms, but patients can take steps to stay protected.

On March 15—Long COVID Awareness Day—patients shared their stories and demanded more funding for long COVID research. Nearly one in five U.S. adults who contract COVID-19 suffer from long COVID, and up to 5.8 million children have the disease.

Anyone who contracts COVID-19 is at risk of developing long-term illness. Long COVID has been deemed by some a “mass-disabling event,” as its symptoms can significantly disrupt patients’ lives.Fortunately, there’s hope. New treatment options are in development, and there are resources available that may ease the physical, mental, and financial burdens that long COVID patients face.Read on to learn more about resources for long COVID patients and how you can support the long COVID patients in your life.

What is long COVID, and who is at risk?

Long COVID is a cluster of symptoms that can occur after a COVID-19 infection and last for weeks, months, or years, potentially affecting almost every organ. Symptoms range from mild to debilitating and may include fatigue, chest pain, brain fog, dizziness, abdominal pain, joint pain, and changes in taste or smell.Anyone who gets infected with COVID-19 is at risk of developing long COVID, but some groups are at greater risk, including unvaccinated people, women, people over 40, and people who face health inequities.

What types of support are available for long COVID patients?

Currently, there is still no single, FDA-approved treatment for long COVID, but doctors can help patients manage individual symptoms. Some options for long COVID treatment include therapies to improve lung function and retrain your sense of smell, as well as medications for pain and blood pressure regulation. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines may also improve symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Long COVID patients are eligible for disability benefits under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Pandemic Legal Assistance Network provides pro bono support for long COVID patients applying for these benefits.

Long COVID patients may also be eligible for other forms of government assistance, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and rental and utility assistance programs.

How can friends and family of long COVID patients provide support?

Getting reinfected with COVID-19 can worsen existing long COVID symptoms. Wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask will reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to long COVID patients and others. At indoor gatherings, improving ventilation by opening doors and windows, using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, and building your own Corsi-Rosenthal box can also reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.Long COVID patients may also benefit from emotional and financial support as they manage symptoms, navigate barriers to treatment, and go through the months-long process of applying for and receiving disability benefits.For more information, talk to your health care provider.

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