Long-term effects of Covid-19 revealed: Low energy, anxiety and short-term memory loss

Long-term effects of Covid-19 revealed: Low energy, anxiety and short-term memory loss

THE LONG-TERM effects of coronavirus are gradually becoming more evident as patients who have battled the disease are still on the road to recovery some weeks and even months later down the line.

Despite staving off the virus, many patients who contracted Covid-19 in March and April are still feeling the effects of the battle.

Health authorities have warned that making a full recovery from coronavirus could take a lot longer than initially expected.

Low energy levels, shortness of breath and even increased anxiety have been widely reported by sufferers who have long since been in the clear from the killer disease.

At a Department of Health briefing, 27-year-old Dublin footballer Siobhán Killeen, who works as a radiographer at the Mater Hospital, shared her experience.

"I thought it would take a two-week period of feeling the worst of Covid," she said.

"In reality the weeks and months following my isolation were the toughest. I was fatigued, my fitness levels had deteriorated, I had shortness of breath while exercising and I had feelings of worry.

"As A Dublin footballer, I was not expecting that my recovery would be so tough and take so long. I know I had a good baseline fitness, I was in great health and it was a very tough battle."

Sustained levels of fatigue have been commonplace among patients, many of whom say that while they don't feel completely restricted by the virus anymore, they aren't back to their pre-disease energy levels.


Covid-19 is a disease which attacks the respiratory system. Breathing becomes difficult in the most severe cases and many have required help from hospital ventilators in order to breathe.

But after long periods of needing respirators and other breathing equipment, the body can take a while to readjust to powering everything by itself.

Some patients have lost as much as 18 kilos during their hospitalisation. This is due to a hyper metabolic response in patients with prolonged illness whereby the body begins to consume the muscle as fuel to fight off the infection.

Dr Vida Hamilton HSE National Clinical Advisor said there are also impacts on the emotional wellbeing of patients, with some experiencing anxiety, depressive disorders and flashbacks associated with the trauma, particularly those who have been through a life-threatening event in the intensive care unit.

“And of course, in some people with the most severe end of the disease, they could have problems with short-term memory loss and difficulties of concentration that do improve with time, but that take time and care in order to give the person the ability to perform at their best possible level," she said.

28-year-old Michael Prendergast this week also told RTÉ’s News At One that it has taken him 14 weeks to get "any semblance of normality back".

Having been hospitalised in March after contracting Covid-19, he said he has since had to return to hospital twice due to symptoms of the coronavirus, including fever, shaking and vomiting, according to theJournal.ie.

Prendergast said his doctor has said he does not need to be worried about permanent side-effects as he is young and relatively fit, but the last number of months have been "horrible".

Adverse effects such as this have caused many patients to suffer bouts of anxiety and even depression.