How long can you expect a COVID-19 illness to last?

COVID-19 patients being treated with oxygen at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa on July 10. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

How long your coronavirus illness lasts depends on a number of factors. Most coronavirus patients have mild to moderate illness and recover quickly. But older, sicker patients tend to take longer to recover. That includes those who are obese or have high blood pressure and other chronic diseases.

The World Health Organization says recovery typically takes two to six weeks. One U.S. study found that around 20 per cent of non-hospitalized individuals ages 18 to 34 still had symptoms at least two weeks after becoming ill. The same was true for nearly half of people age 50 and older.

Among those sick enough to be hospitalized, a study in Italy found 87 per cent were still experiencing symptoms two months after getting sick. Lingering symptoms included fatigue and shortness of breath.

Dr. Khalilah Gates, a Chicago lung specialist, said many of her hospitalized COVID-19 patients still have coughing episodes, breathing difficulties and fatigue three to four months after infection.

She said it’s hard to predict exactly when COVID-19 patients will return to feeling well.

“The unsettling part of all this is we don’t have all the answers,” said Gates, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.