COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). While the majority of COVID-19 cases are mild or moderate, a small percentage is severe and can result in breathing difficulties and pneumonia. It is primarily a respiratory disease that causes flu-like symptoms as well as additional neurological symptoms.

Depending on the severity of the disease, extensive and long-term lung damage can occur. COVID-19 may require some time to recover from. For example, one may experience ongoing symptoms such as:

  • Tightness in your chest or chest congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough that lasts for weeks or months
  • Fatigue
  • Worsening of existing pulmonary conditions (such as pulmonary fibrosis or COPD)

Long-term effects of COVID

Some people are experiencing a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as "brain fog”)
  • Cough
  • Chest or stomach pain

Multi-organ Effects of COVID-19

Some people who had a severe COVID-19 illness experience multi-organ effects or autoimmune conditions over a longer period of time, with symptoms lasting weeks or months. Multi-organ effects can affect most body systems, including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions. Autoimmune diseases develop when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your body, resulting in inflammation (painful swelling) or tissue damage in the affected areas. While it is extremely uncommon, some people, mostly children, develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or shortly after contracting COVID-19.

How Does COVID-19 Affect the Lungs?

Coronavirus can cause flu-like symptoms in the upper respiratory system (nose, sinuses, and throat), as well as cough with or without mucus and difficulty breathing in the lower respiratory system (airways and lungs). COVID-19 can cause pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome if it is severe (ARDS). Covid-19 primarily infects the lungs of those infected, resulting in death from ARDS and pneumonia in severe cases. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t always result in ARDS and pneumonia, which is a possibility in the most severe cases. In the vast majority of cases, 80 percent might have mild symptoms, 14 percent have pneumonia, 5% will have septic shock/ organ failure (mostly respiratory failure), and 2% of cases will be fatal.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

There is a link between COVID 19 infection and ARDS; severe cases of COVID-19 infection result in ARDS and pneumonia, both of which can be fatal. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a potentially fatal lung injury caused by fluid leakage into the lungs. It becomes difficult to breathe, and oxygen cannot enter the body. The majority of people who develop ARDS have already been admitted to the hospital due to trauma or illness. Fluid from the lungs' smallest blood vessels begins to leak into the alveoli, the tiny air sacs where oxygen exchange takes place, in the early stages of ARDS. Breathing becomes difficult as the lungs shrink and stiffen. COVID-19 has a direct effect on the lungs, causing damage to the alveoli. The majority of patients who develop ARDS are already hospitalized. Oxygen therapy is used to ensure that the blood and body receive enough oxygen to function properly. A mechanical ventilator may be used to provide oxygen support.

Take care of your lungs

COVID-19, in summary, is primarily a respiratory disease that causes flu-like symptoms as well as specific neurological symptoms. Extensive and long-lasting damage to the lungs can occur depending on the severity of the infection, and this damage can last for years. More research is needed to determine the full extent of lung damage in a variety of patients of various ages and severity levels, as well as to assess long-term lung effects. Post COVID period needs supervised care and a persistent cautious attitude. Consult with the best pulmonologist in Chennai at Prashanth Hospitals. You can also book an online doctor consultation.