How Individuals Are Self-Treating Long COVID


New research examines how individuals with continuing COVID-19 symptoms are managing the virus.

There is no singular way to remedy COVID-19. Some individuals had symptoms reminiscent of the flu, others showed no symptoms at all, but many individuals, regardless of their severity of disease, have been diagnosed with “long COVID,” meaning they continue to experience symptoms of the disease well after they stop testing positive.

There is considerably more data regarding how to treat COVID-19 in the short term than in the long term, and even less data on how people who are experiencing “long COVID” are dealing with the virus on their own. Looking to change that, Casey Tak, PhD, MPH, and Linas Krulikas from the University of Utah conducted a cross-sectional online survey, hoping to “describe medication and supplement utilization by individuals with self-reported long COVID.” They presented the findings in a poster at the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition.1

They examined 75 participants located in 13 different countries, all of which were recruited from social media platforms like Reddit and Facebook, that have groups dedicated to people experiencing long COVID.

Sixty percent of the participants had confirmed COVID-19, and 87% of which received at least one vaccine.More than half (56%) identified as female, and 75% lived in suburban areas.The majority (89%) of the participants said they experienced either mild or moderate symptoms during their initial infection.

Medications and supplements were common among the participants, according to the survey. “Among the types of medications, the most commonly reported were heart and blood pressure medications (n = 18, 24%), allergy medications (n = 17, 23%), mood stabilizers/antidepressants (n = 14, 19%), and heartburn medications (n = 12, 16%). Over half (n = 39, 52%) reported using a supplement. Nearly half (n = 33, 44%) reported that at least one of their medications was helping their symptoms.”

Though the participants’ specific symptoms were not revealed in the poster, many long COVID, or “post-COVID” patients experience symptoms similar to those experienced in regular or “short” COVID—tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, brain fog, etc.2Brain fog, or the loss of concentration, memory, or general inability to focus, has been a common symptom of long COVID, even leading a team of Yale scientists to search for a possible “cure” to the symptom.3

According to Kaiser Family Foundation, the prevalence of long COVID appears to be falling.4 “The percentage of people who have had COVID and currently report long COVID symptoms declined from 19% in June 2022 to 11% in January 2023” it reported. Still, long COVID is a common side effect of a COVID-19 diagnoses, and although the numbers may be headed in a more positive direction, progress appears to be moving slowlyand 5% of the adult population reported their activities are limited due to long COVID.

“Long COVID presents a significant chronic health burden to adults in the US and abroad,” the University of Utah study concludes. “Many different types of medications and supplements are being used or prescribed to manage the wide array of symptoms.”


1. Tak C,Krulikas L. Medication and supplement utilization among individuals with self-reported long COVID. Presented at: APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition; March 24-27, 2023; Phoenix, AZ. Abstract 1065.
2. Centers for Disease Control: Long COVID or Post-COVID conditions. December 16, 2022.
3. Yale Researchers Discover Possible 'Brain Fog' Treatment for Long COVID. Yale Medicine. December 16, 2022. Accessed March 24, 2023.
4. Long COVID: What Do the Latest Data Show? Kaiser Family Foundation. January 26, 2023. Accessed March 24, 2023.
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