New worries as Covid-19 damages lungs of recovered patients

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Chinese researchers have found fluid- or debris-filled sacs in the lungs of those who were infected by COVID-19. Scans suggest sustained organ damage.

The WHO says the elderly and people with underlying problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

More than 86,000 people worldwide have now recovered from the lung disease COVID-19. In those cases, the infection manifested itself in mild to moderate form, or it is because these patients received excellent medical care.

Speaking to the Guardian Australia, Prof John Wilson, president-elect of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a respiratory physician said that when people with Covid-19 develop a cough and fever, Wilson says this is a result of the infection reaching the respiratory tree – the air passages that conduct air between the lungs and the outside.

He says almost all serious consequences of Covid-19 feature pneumonia.

Researchers in Hong Kong have said that recovered coronavirus patients can be left with damaged lungs.

A small study of 12 patients discharged from hospital showed that two or three had reduced lung function. However, it is too early to confirm any long-term effects.

Dr. Owen Tsang Tak-yin, medical director of the Infectious Diseases Center at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong said that in some patients, lung function could decline by about 20 to 30% after recovery.

In Wuhan, it worked out that from those who had tested positive and had sought medical help, roughly 6% had a severe illness,  Lung fibrosis cannot be cured because the scarred changes in the lung tissue do not regress. But the progression of pulmonary fibrous can be delayed and sometimes even stopped if detected in time.

Prof John Wilson says that if people become infected they respond by pouring out inflammatory material into the air sacs that are at the bottom of our lungs.

He says lungs that become filled with inflammatory material are unable to get enough oxygen to the bloodstream, reducing the body’s ability to take on oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.

“That’s the usual cause of death with severe pneumonia,” he says.

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