Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:44 am
What are the long-term effects of coronavirus on our health and society? In this article, we’ll discuss what we know about the virus so far and what we don’t know yet.
The Coronavirus causes the SARS virus. The virus was first discovered in 2003 and has been spreading worldwide since.
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As doctors and scientists race to understand the many ways in which COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus affects the brain and body, they’re also trying to figure out the sort of long-term impact the infection could have on patients.
The virus has only been around since late December, or at least that’s what the current evidence suggests, so even the initial COVID-19 patients are still in their early days of recovery.
A new study from China gives us a first glimpse of what may be in store for patients who battle moderate-to-severe cases of COVID-19. By testing biological markers of recovered patients, researchers found recovered patients had lingering issues with liver function. The intense damage we’re seeing in some people’s lungs and hearts also has researchers concerned that the health issues won’t end once the infection clears up.
It’ll take years before we clearly understand how COVID-19 affects people’s health in the long run, but here’s what health experts think we might see.
The Long Term Effects of Coronavirus
COVID-19 can trigger inflammation, which can lead to organ damage. To understand the impact COVID-19 may have on the body, it’s crucial to first look at the immediate damage the disease inflicts.
When the body is exposed to an infection like COVID-19, it mounts an inflammatory response, in which the immune system pumps out cells to fight the virus. With COVID-19, some people’s bodies are producing way too much of an inflammatory response that’s harming critical organs like the lungs, kidneys, and heart, according to Khalilah Gates, a pulmonologist and assistant professor of pulmonary, critical care and medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
The body cannot recover from that level of damage overnight, and it must heal itself. “Unfortunately, particularly in the lung, this healing process can lead to irreversible scarring (fibrosis) that can affect lung function long term,” Gates said. This loss of lung capacity could involve anything from shortness of breath to a long-term need for oxygen.
COVID-19 is also putting extreme stress on people’s hearts. Harvard University specialists called it “one big stress test for the heart,” stating that the inflammation and high fevers brought on by the coronavirus weaken the heart and increase the risk for cardiac abnormalities like blood clotting.
Len Horovitz, an internist and pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, expects that some people who battled a severe bout of COVID-19 may develop heart arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, and myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle).
It matters how severe someone’s bout with the illness is. Those with milder symptoms may be less likely to run into COVID-related health issues down the road. It’s the more severe cases that have experts worried. If you have a mild case, “you will not have any scarring or breathing issues long term,” Horovitz said.
Health experts predict that the less inflammation a patient experiences, the less long-term effects they’ll have.
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How does Coronavirus affect your body?
We won’t fully know the consequences of Covid-19 for years
Gates said it will take months to years to fully understand the impact and long-term health effects of COVID-19
Researchers will need to follow patients over time, and look for changes and in their hearts and lungs and other key organs, to see if the damage is long-lasting or if the body can make a swift recovery.
“I like to tell my patients recovering from other infections, even when you’re discharged and you’re feeling better, your body is still healing,” Gates said. “Healing and recovery take time.”
Effects of COVID-19 – Experts are still learning about the novel coronavirus. The information in this story was known or available as of press time, but its guidance concerning COVID-19 could change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.
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This post originally published in Huffpost
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