There is potential for long-term effects of COVID-19 infection
Experts are sending ominous warnings to the public.
Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press conference that “there’s enough people out there having difficulties with their exercise tolerance, having difficulties with their breathing, and potentially having long-term impacts on their cardiovascular system, that we want to try to avoid all COVID infections, not just those COVID infections that lead to death.” Laurie Jacobs, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center, warns that individuals recovering may “struggle with a number of respiratory, cardiac, and kidney problems” along with an “increased risk of blood clots which can potentially lead to stroke or heart attack.”
Studies are getting results.
A study from the University Hospital Frankfurt in Germany looked at the hearts of 100 patients who had recovered from coronavirus at a median of 71 after the initial diagnosis. They compared their hearts to healthy people who had not been infected with the virus. The study found that 78% of patients had structural abnormalities and 60% had signs of inflammation. Inflammation is a body's natural response to foreign invaders. However, it can cause serious damage if that response lasts for too long. According to Ryan, it can lead to heart disease and other heart conditions that would develop later in life.
Inflammation can also be found in the lungs.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 attacks the lungs and ultimately may lead to permanent lung damage, a terrifying and career-killing prospect for someone who plays a sport or sings for a living. Some people who recover have experienced persistent coughing or pain when breathing. Others have been noted to have a greatly reduced lung capacity. Patients placed on a ventilator may have some of the worst long term lung problems.
Coronavirus causes neurological symptoms.
The potential for the most persistent problems is in the neurological issues caused by COVID-19. Two of the strangest yet most common symptoms are the loss of taste and smell, which means the virus must invade the nervous system and possibly infect neurons in the nasal passage to disrupt the senses. People have reported headaches, dizziness, issues with memory and concentration, and even hallucinations post recovery. Researchers suspect these symptoms are most common among those with severe forms of the disease. Inflammation in the body can also increase the chance of blood clots and therefore the likelihood of strokes.
If you get infected, watch your symptoms.
If you’ve had COVID-19, be on the lookout for troubling symptoms and stay in contact with your doctor. If you haven’t gotten sick, try to stay in and please wear your mask when you go out. We don’t know yet the long term effects of this novel coronavirus but we will continue to learn everything we can so that we can better protect ourselves and those around us.
Written by Alyssa Sanders