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If you have been in intensive care

Get support with breathing difficulties after COVID‑19 if you were in intensive care when you were ill with the virus.

You have been in intensive care if you were in any of these:

  • intensive care unit (ICU)
  • critical care unit (CCU)
  • intensive therapy unit (ITU)

or

  • if you needed a ventilator (tube that is put into your airways to help you breathe)

Your intensive care team may have given you a rehabilitation plan when you left the hospital.

If you DO have a rehabilitation plan
If you DON’T have a rehabilitation plan
Processing your experience


If you DO have a rehabilitation plan

Follow your rehabilitation plan

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and education for people with lung conditions. This may be part of your rehabilitation plan.

Your plan may also include cognitive rehabilitation or psychiatric rehabilitation. This is about helping you with any mental or emotional difficulties.

It’s normal to have times where you feel frustrated because you don’t seem to be getting better. Setting small goals can help you recover and show you the progress you are making. This could be something as simple as making a drink or walking a few steps further without needing to rest. Don’t push yourself too hard. If you do, your recovery can take longer.

More information

Breathlessness and how to manage breathlessness — from the British Lung Foundation
Support for recovering from COVID-19 — from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals
What you should know about leaving a critical care unit — from The UK Sepsis Trust
Recovering from COVID-19 after ICU stay — from the University of Dundee
A guide to intensive care, including information in 18 languages — from ICUsteps

Speak to us

Our team of respiratory specialists are here to support you with post-COVID breathlessness.

9am – 5pm
Monday to Friday

WhatsApp us

You can also chat to our respiratory specialists on WhatsApp about post-COVID breathlessness.

9am – 5pm
Monday to Friday


If you DON’T have a rehabilitation plan

Speak to your GP or nurse

  • Tell your GP or nurse about your breathing difficulties after COVID-19
  • Tell them that you were in intensive care
  • Give them any contact details for the ICU (or CCU or ITU) that you got before you left the hospital
  • Discuss with them whether or not you need a rehabilitation plan

Tip: Make notes of your symptoms and take them with you when you speak to your GP or nurse

More information

Breathlessness and how to manage breathlessness — from the British Lung Foundation
Support for recovering from COVID-19 — from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals
What you should know about leaving a critical care unit — from The UK Sepsis Trust
Recovering from COVID-19 after ICU stay — from the University of Dundee
A guide to intensive care, including information in 18 languages — from ICUsteps

Speak to us

Our team of respiratory specialists are here to support you with post-COVID breathlessness.

9am – 5pm
Monday to Friday

WhatsApp us

You can also chat to our respiratory specialists on WhatsApp about post-COVID breathlessness.

9am – 5pm
Monday to Friday


Processing your experience

Being in intensive care can be overwhelming. You may have difficulty remembering what happened to you. You may have felt scared, angry, or helpless. You may have had vivid dreams, nightmares or visions that upset you.

These things are normal for someone who has been in intensive care. You may find it hard, but it can help to talk to someone you trust about this. It is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about.

More information

Anxiety, fear and panic — from NHS
Low mood, sadness and depression —from NHS
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) —from NHS
Intensive care — a guide for patients and relatives from ICUSteps
Post-ICU syndrome — an overview from the Society of Critical Care Medicine

Speak to us

Our team of respiratory specialists are here to support you with post-COVID breathlessness.

9am – 5pm
Monday to Friday

WhatsApp us

You can also chat to our respiratory specialists on WhatsApp about post-COVID breathlessness.

9am – 5pm
Monday to Friday

Last medically reviewed: 28/04/20.
COVID-19 is a new health condition, and more information is coming out all the time.  We will update this page with new information as it becomes available.

Help us help you

We need to understand more about breathing and other difficulties after COVID-19. If this affects you, or someone you care for, we would like to hear from you.

By taking our survey you will contribute important information. The data we collect will help guide research and help us develop our services. This will allow healthcare providers and others to better meet your needs.

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