Long Covid clinical picture

Covid-19 is a disease caused by the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which has been occurring globally since late 2019.

The acute course of the disease particularly affects the respiratory tract and, according to the Robert Koch-Institute, can be divided into four degrees of severity:

  • Mild progression: no or only mild, flu-like symptoms.
  • Moderate progression: slight pneumonia, often without the need for in-patient treatment.
  • Severe progression: hospitalisation usually necessary, often intensive care, with oxygen supply required or other complications.
  • Critical progression: most severe progression requiring intensive care with a need for respiratory support and often further (severe) complications (e.g. organ failure).

Long-term effects of a Covid-19 infection

Unlike the acute progression, there is still no standard medical definition for the phase after the acute illness is over or has subsided. The terms Long Covid & Post Covid are commonly used. 

As the largest private provider of inpatient rehabilitation in Germany, MEDIAN has been caring for patients who have survived a Covid-19 infection since the start of the pandemic. Below, we therefore present our approach to defining the terms Long Covid and Post Covid. Practice has shown this distinction between the two to be very useful.

What is Post Covid?

At MEDIAN, the term Post Covid is used to refer to symptoms, limitations and health disorders that exist immediately following the recovery phase (usually up to 12 weeks after the onset of the disease), mostly after a severe or critical progression of the disease. However, this period can be considerably longer and even last for several months, depending on the severity of the acute illness. You can find MEDIAN's offers of rehabilitation for Post Covid here.

What is Long Covid?

Long Covid describes a broad spectrum of symptoms and health disorders that occur during the course of the disease or some time (in some patients not earlier than 12 weeks) after the original illness, which has since been overcome. What is characteristic here is that the acute progression was often mild or moderate and/or there was a phase of temporary recovery. Long Covid syndrome usually presents with clusters of symptoms, often overlapping, that can fluctuate and change over time and can affect any system in the body.

Possible causes of Long Covid

The causes of the symptoms and difficulties in Long Covid-19 syndrome can vary considerably. Possible causes are permanent damage to the lungs, heart, brain and other organs. The development of autoantibodies as a possible cause of Long Covid is also a topic of current discussion. 

Possible risk factors in Long Covid

Little is known so far about possible risk factors that could lead to Long Covid. The following factors are thought to contribute to this:

  • Advanced age
  • Being overweight
  • Being female
  • Experiencing more than five symptoms in the first week of illness
  • Asthma

Long Covid clinical picture

Signs of Long Covid

How to detect Long Covid

Learn more