As per the best lung doctor in Dubai, your lungs are the first organs to face the brunt of the virus. During the early days of the infection, the virus rapidly invades the cells of the respiratory system and attacks the epithelial cells lining the airways. This lining catches and clears out things like pollen and viruses. As it gets compromised, our airways get flooded with debris and fluids. Symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath can occur suddenly. But severe illness can lead to a number of complications, requiring immediate medical attention. These include:
Acute respiratory distress syndrome
The severity of the diseases caused by COVID-19 depends on a number of factors, such as the immune system, age and comorbidities. Symptoms can also escalate from cough and shortness of breath to critical conditions like respiratory failure, shock and multi-organ system failure.
It’s important to note that COVID-19 positive patients with already compromised lungs can face worsening of their pre-existing conditions due to exposure to COVID-19. Hence, people suffering from conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial lung disease should be more cautious.
Recovering time of a person with a mild infection is around two weeks and three to six weeks for someone severely affected, according to the World Health Organisation. Although, this also depends on the patient’s pre-existing comorbidities as they can cause complications. According to a number of surveys conducted in the U.S. and Italy in the early days, 39% of those who were hospitalized were reported to have returned to baseline health by 14-21 days after diagnosis. In another study of 143 patients, as low as 13% were relieved of their symptoms after an average of 60 days since they contracted the virus. Dyspnea (43%), fatigue (53%), joint pain and chest pain were the most common symptoms. In the case of immunosuppressed patients, they were reported to have persistent severe illness along with weeks of pneumonia.
Does the coronavirus cause physiological changes in lung structure and function?
According to the Best pulmonologist in Dubai, one of the major concerns as an impact of the coronavirus is with gas exchange in the alveolus. Usually, there is a very strong connection between the alveolar epithelium (type-1 cells) and the capillary. As COVID-19 infects AT2 cells and kills them, they flood the alveolus. On top of this, there is evidence for micro thrombosis, which may, in turn, block the vascular side. This can appear as more than one condition, such as severe bronchopneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or sepsis.
Pneumonia causes inflammation of the lungs and fluid build-up, thus contributing to shortness of breath. It also leads to fevers and cough. If the inflammation gets severe, it can lead to ARDS. The best hospital in Dubai states that treating this would require drastic measures – the use of oxygen therapies, including mechanical ventilation or even extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). This is a lung bypass machine that oxygenates the blood. If a condition becomes too severe, it can cause longer-lasting effects on the lungs, such as fibrosis (scarring of the lung).
Sepsis is yet another form of abnormal inflammation as a result of infection. It is quite severe, as it can cause multiple organ failures in a coordinated fashion. Effects of sepsis can demand support for failing organs, thus having a lasting impact on their long-term functionality.