AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Millions of Americans may be living with long COVID, and now the National Institutes of Health wants to learn how to prevent and treat the symptoms.

The group is conducting a large research project called the RECOVER Initiative at 80 sites across the country. One site is UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.

“We have a lot of concerns, and we know very little about what is causing the trouble,” said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH.

Doctors want to learn what causes long COVID, what the long-term effects are and who is most at risk. They need volunteers of all ages, including people who have had COVID, those who have not, and those who are pregnant.

“Pretty soon also we will be starting clinical trials to test different ways of treating the symptoms. So, this is a really big study. We need lots of people’s input, and we need lots of people to join,” Koroshetz said.

Some of the most common lingering symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, and brain fog.  The doctor says one goal is to look at the country’s health going forward, “…to understand how this infection would affect, say, your chances of developing dementia, or heart attack, or diabetes.”

Volunteers may answer questions, give samples, have exams or imaging tests. Doctors hope this project provides some answers.

“If 5% of people have persistent symptoms, that’s a lot of people who are suffering, and we don’t understand how to help them in the long run,” Koroshetz said.

If you are interested in joining the study go to: About the Initative | RECOVER COVID