Covid ‘Long Haulers’

COVID Can Affect Multiple Body Systems [Organs] Severely – Check Symptoms For Early Detection

Covid-19 might seem like a respiratory disease in the initial stages but can acutely affect other systems in our body too. In the last two and a half years of its prevalence, the virus has shown its effect on our lungs, heart, kidney, digestive system, brain and mind. These effects can linger on for years, estimates the medical fraternity. On why the disease shows a wide range of symptoms, experts have pointed out that the virus needs special receptor cells to enter the body. It attacks the organ that has the receptors and is known to worsen the state of the organ through which it gains entry into the body. It is easier to deal with the probable disease conditions if one is aware of the symptoms in the initial stages. Here is all that you need to know:

How severe can COVID-related lung disease be?

Coronavirus usually infects the human body through the respiratory tract accounting for its damaging effect on our lungs. There is an accumulation of lots of debris and fluid in the lungs following the resultant immunological response. If the infection is severe, the walls and linings of the air sacs in the lungs also get involved. 

Symptoms: Excessive sputum production, coughing, chest congestion and persistent shortness of breath — getting winded easily after even light exertion.

Lung recovery after COVID-19 is possible but takes time. Experts say it can take months for the lung function to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Breathing exercises and respiratory therapy can help.

How can coronavirus affect our heart?

COVID can cause acute coronary syndrome, congestive heart failure, myocarditis, and arrhythmias. Systemic inflammatory responses in the form of Cytokine Storms can cause inflammation of the heart muscle [myocarditis] without direct viral infiltration. It can lead to heart failure and arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat. The condition can occur even after the acute phase of infection is over and without any lung damage. People suffering from heart issues should remain cautious as COVID can worsen the condition.

Symptoms: Tightness in the chest, cold sweat, breathing issues, palpitations, rapid heartbeat, and discomfort in the arms, neck and jaw.

Kidney damage from COVID-19

Kidney damage can result again from damage to the receptor cells, which can happen either due to viral invasion, lack of oxygen, or a cytokine storm. It can raise the risk of long-term kidney disease and the need for dialysis. Many patients with severe COVID had co-existing chronic conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes. Both of these increase the risk of kidney disease.

Can COVID cause gut-related issues?

Since the outbreak of Omicron, several patients have complained of digestive disorders. We know that the virus does travel to different parts of the body. The omicron variant attacking the gut is not surfacing in the nasal and throat secretions [swabs] – so you could have a gut infection but not show up as positive in your RT-PCR.

Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain, Heartburn, Bloating.

What are the symptoms of COVID-linked brain disease?

COVID can affect the brain in many ways. The receptor cells in the cerebral cortex and brainstem facilitate the entry of the virus. Clots formed in COVID can narrow down the arteries leading to the brain, causing a stroke.

Symptoms: seizures, loss of smell and taste, headaches, lack of concentration, behavioral changes, and loss of consciousness.

Can it cause mental health issues and fatigue?

Hospitals witnessed a whopping number of cases going under intensive care with mechanical assistance such as ventilators to breathe during each COVID surge. Simply surviving this experience can make a person more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety. Also, there is documentation of the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in many older adults.

Since it is difficult to predict long-term outcomes from the relatively new COVID-19 virus, scientists are looking at the documented long-term effects of related viruses, such as the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Many people went on to develop chronic-fatigue-syndrome post recovery from SARS – a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that worsens with physical or mental activity but does not improve with rest. The same is coming to be true for people who have had COVID-19.

Exercising caution and being aware is the key to good health in the present times, as the world is still not out of Long-Covid yet.

Stay Aware – Stay Healthy.

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