What is long COVID?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define long COVID as a group of symptoms that linger for weeks or months after a COVID-19 infection. About one out of every three people who had coronavirus develops long COVID or “long haulers.” These symptoms can cause problems in multiple organs and body systems at once. Even people who had a mild case of the virus can have persistent COVID symptoms that disrupt their daily life.
Why choose UCLA Health for long-term COVID treatment?
Specialists at UCLA Health are uniquely qualified to diagnose, manage and treat lingering symptoms of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our specialists have been at the forefront of exceptional, compassionate care for people with coronavirus. As leaders in long COVID care, we put our knowledge to work for you. You’ll receive expert care from a top team of multidisciplinary specialists devoted to your recovery.
Highlights of our program include:
Accurate diagnostics: We understand that effective treatments begin with a precise diagnosis. Our team uses the latest advances in testing to confirm a long COVID diagnosis and rule out other undiagnosed medical conditions. You’ll receive a comprehensive evaluation from an internal medicine physician who specializes in long COVID so we can plan the right treatments and therapies for you.
Customized treatments: Many people with long-term COVID have symptoms affecting the brain, nervous system, heart and lungs. That’s why our team includes specialists in neurology, cardiology and pulmonology. We deliver tailored treatments based on your unique set of symptoms. We also offer psychological support to address mental health issues that may arise from dealing with coronavirus and its lingering effects.
Coordinated care: As a multidisciplinary team dedicated to your recovery, we collaborate seamlessly across departments. We also communicate with your primary care doctor so they are involved in your care and support your recovery.
Ongoing support: Recovering from long COVID takes time. We’re here for you when you need us. Our team serves as a resource throughout your recovery journey. Whether that means connecting you with a support group, coordinating additional treatments or creating an at-home physical therapy plan, we’re committed to helping you feel better now and in the future.
Proven success: The UCLA Health Long COVID team works with the UCLA Health Post-ICU Recovery Clinic to coordinate some care plans for people with long COVID. Our experts have experience treating people with post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which can cause many physical and mental health issues. We understand the unique challenges that come with this type of recovery and use that knowledge to help people with long-term COVID.
Our areas of care
As leaders in long COVID care, we offer the full spectrum of diagnostic, treatment and support services. Whether you had a mild case of COVID-19 or a serious illness that required a hospital stay, we can help. We’re also committed to pioneering research that will lead to more effective treatments for long COVID. Our areas of care include:
Long COVID diagnostics
Symptoms of long COVID (also called post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2, or PASC) can mimic other health conditions. In fact, these symptoms sometimes result from an undiagnosed health condition or an underlying condition that was triggered by COVID-19.
Our team uses comprehensive health evaluations and the latest advances in testing to find the root of the problem and confirm a diagnosis of long COVID. We determine what’s causing your symptoms so we can guide you on the path to recovery.
Long COVID treatments
Long COVID symptoms can stem from issues in several body systems at once, requiring care and treatment from multiple specialists. Our long COVID program’s leadership includes experts from several departments and specialties, including:
- Internal medicine
Each member of our team brings highly specialized knowledge to ensure that treatments are precise and effective. As leaders in our respective fields, we work together to treat you as a whole person, not just your individual symptoms.
Long COVID support
Our compassionate team understands the physical and emotional toll long COVID can have on you and your loved ones. That’s why one of the pillars of the UCLA Health Long COVID Program is comprehensive psychological support.
Our psychology specialists offer counseling, therapy and customized treatments for mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We’re here to support you throughout your recovery journey.
Long COVID research
While caring for patients with an often-complex set of lingering COVID symptoms, UCLA Health experts are always looking ahead. We are working to discover the biological and immunological causes of long COVID and developing effective treatments.
UCLA Health is proud to be one of only eight academic medical centers chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to participate in INSPIRE, a nationwide study that looks at the long-term effects of COVID-19.
Post-COVID symptoms we treat
At the UCLA Health Long COVID Program, we treat the full range of symptoms that remain after a COVID-19 infection. Many of these long-haul symptoms affect multiple organs at once, leading to problems in several body systems. We’re specially trained to treat:
One in three people with long COVID experience neurological symptoms. These symptoms can linger for weeks or months after the initial COVID-19 infection. As leaders in neurology, our experts treat cognitive problems and issues that affect the nervous system, including:
- “Brain fog” (difficulty thinking, reasoning or concentrating) after COVID-19
- Eye issues, including blurry vision or double vision
- Loss of taste and loss of smell (parosmia)
Severe COVID-19 infections can cause long-term heart damage. But people who had mild COVID symptoms can also have recurring or chronic heart and vascular problems. These include:
- Blood clots and vein (vascular) damage
- Chest pain
- Dizziness when standing up (orthostatic hypotension)
- Fast-beating or pounding heart (heart palpitations)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Long COVID can cause persistent problems with the lungs and oxygen levels in the body. Many people with long COVID experience lingering:
- Exhaustion after little exertion
- Hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in tissues throughout the body)
- Shortness of breath
Mental health symptoms
A range of psychological problems can occur after a COVID-19 infection. These issues can result from the virus itself or from the stressful experience of being treated for a serious illness. They may also come with the challenges of living with long-term physical symptoms. Mental health effects of long COVID include:
- Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-COVID syndrome treatments we offer
Our experts deliver comprehensive treatments that focus on relieving long COVID symptoms throughout the body. We understand that recovering from long COVID can be challenging. We’ve designed our program to help you heal physically and emotionally. Our treatments include:
Counseling and support: Our experienced, compassionate psychologists treat depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns that can result from long-COVID syndrome. Offering therapy and counseling, we specialize in helping people with PTSD after COVID-19.
Diabetes care: In collaboration with UCLA Health endocrinology specialists, we care for people who develop diabetes after a COVID-19 infection. In addition to creating a tailored diabetes care plan, we offer education, nutritional services and support to help you manage this condition.
Medications: Whether you need medications to help with focus and attention, anxiety and depression, or a wide range of physical symptoms, our experts are here for you. We coordinate your care with experienced specialists from UCLA Health pharmaceutical services. Together, we ensure that your care plan includes medications that are safe and effective.
Physical therapy: Joint pain, muscle pain, and problems with lung and heart function can lead to long-term mobility challenges in people with long COVID. Our specially trained physical and occupational therapists are at the forefront of therapies that address these issues.
Pulmonary rehabilitation: Our respiratory therapists use the most advanced techniques to restore lung function and strengthen the muscles that help you breathe. Your treatment may include a combination of customized respiratory therapy, breathing exercises and medications. We’re by your side every step of the way to help you reach your goals. We’ve also partnered with the LA Opera to develop a breath-control program for people with respiratory issues after COVID. During these workshops, opera singers share techniques to strengthen respiratory muscles and increase lung capacity.
Meet our team
The UCLA Health Long COVID team includes internal medicine physicians and specialists from cardiology, pulmonology, neurology, psychology and other departments. We collaborate with physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists and social workers to deliver compassionate, comprehensive post-COVID care.
If you were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and have symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks, contact your UCLA primary care provider for a referral or call us at 310-825-2631 to have your case reviewed and scheduled with the program.