A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Recovered from COVID-19? 3 things to know

I have recovered from COVID, now what? image

Thousands of people a day are testing positive for COVID-19. As more people recover from the infection, they may have a variety of questions.

Editor’s note: This article was published on November 18, 2020. COVID-19 information and recommendations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or view our most recent COVID-19 blog posts.

Thousands of people a day are testing positive for COVID-19 as the pandemic surges in Wisconsin and across the U.S. The good news is that most people recover from the infection, however, many have questions about their post-COVID-19 recovery.

Can I get COVID-19 again?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of reinfection with COVID-19 have been reported, but remain rare.​

In general, reinfection means a person was infected (got sick) once, recovered, and then later became infected again. Based on what we know from similar viruses, some reinfections are expected.

We are still learning more about COVID-19. The duration of immunity is not yet understood. Other human coronaviruses cause common cold symptoms, and people can become re-infected after several months. Immunity to COVID-19 might last longer, but it’s too early to know for sure.

Ongoing COVID-19 studies will help us understand the likelihood of reinfection, who is at risk of reinfection and the effect on immunity.

What are the long-term effects of COVID-19?

Scientists and researchers are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and the virus can affect someone’s health in many ways.

One of the health effects of concern relates to COVID-19 and the heart. Heart conditions associated with COVID-19 include inflammation and damage to the heart muscle itself, also known as myocarditis, or inflammation of the covering of the heart, also known as pericarditis. These conditions can occur by themselves or in combination.

Heart damage may be an important part of severe disease and death from COVID-19, especially in older people with underlying illness. Heart damage like this also might explain some frequently reported long-term symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain and heart palpitations.

The risk of heart damage may not be limited to older and middle-aged adults. For example, young adults with COVID-19, including athletes, also can suffer from myocarditis. Severe heart damage has occurred in young, healthy people, but is rare.

With special imaging tests, more cases showing the mild effects of COVID-19 on the heart may be diagnosed, including in younger people with mild or minimal symptoms. However, the long-term significance of these mild effects on the heart are unknown.

When a person recovers from COVID-19, should they wear a facemask in public?

Yes. It is recommended that all persons, with a few exceptions, wear cloth face coverings in public. The primary purpose of cloth face coverings is to limit transmission of COVID-19 from infected persons who may be infectious but do not have clinical symptoms of illness or may have early or mild symptoms that they do not recognize.

Cloth face coverings may provide reassurance to others in public settings and be a reminder of the need to maintain social distancing.

There is hope for an effective Covid-19 vaccine in 2021. In the meantime, the holiday season is approaching. Keep safe by wearing a mask, frequently washing your hands, helping public health contact tracers if asked and avoiding indoor gatherings.

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