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The long-term effects of viral infections can be devastating. Doctors say that viruses and bacteria can trigger some illnesses that are hard to recover from. This new pandemic that we’re experiencing has caused a lot of deaths and researchers are concluding that COVID-19 will as well leave a huge population with post-viral problems that are lifelong and, in some cases, disabling. The National Institutes of Health and scientists all over the world are trying to understand what biological factors separate individuals who regain health after contracting the virus from those who remain sick. All in all, it’s important to understand what happens to the body when you get infected with COVID. Continue reading this article to stay informed.

The Lungs

Coronavirus is a respiratory infection and chances are your lungs might become permanently altered in the process. The good news is that for individuals with mild symptoms and those who don’t get hospitalized, they might make a full recovery. However, experts say that there is a risk of lung scarring and other severe long-term lung damages in people who are hospitalized and ventilated. After a chest CAT scan, you’ll be able to see areas of scarring and they might never improve. The negative effects associated with such scarring or damages is that the lungs will never function as they did prior to the illness.

However, this will not happen to everyone, but a good number of people will develop the impairment. Evidence from previous SARS survivors showed that most people’s lungs substantially healed, but others were left with permanent damage. Ten out of 46 people had reduced lung capacity.

Heart Complications

It’s not clear what causes cardiovascular symptoms in patients with Coronavirus. But there have been cases where people suffering from heart problems, who already have Covid-19, had early been diagnosed with high blood pressure or heart disease. It’s not a surprise for Coronavirus patients to develop cardiovascular complications because most viral infections cause myocarditis, a term used to describe heart inflammation. Myocarditis is the side effect of the body’s inflammatory immune response. Some recover from this condition on their own, but most develop permanent damage to the heart muscle.

Also, there is a link between heart disease and respiratory infections. Several people have been reported to suffer from stroke up to the mouth after having the flu, although the risk is high during the first week. In the past, there have been cases where patients who recovered from a viral infection ended up having cardiovascular abnormalities 12 years down the line.

Brain Issues

Results from a study done on 214 COVID-19 patients indicated that the virus negatively impacts the brain. One-third of the patients experienced neurological symptoms including headache, dizziness, and cognitive impairment. Unfortunately, it’s unclear what’s causing these symptoms, but scientists suspect that the virus might be directly infecting neurons or it could be the inflammatory immune response or it could be because of oxygen deprivation. Also, long term effects aren’t known and they aren’t sure of the negative permanent effects.

Immune System

Since Coronavirus tampers with the immune system, researchers found that Covid-19 patients were also infected with other viruses including rhinovirus, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus. Typically, having a virus should decrease the risk of another infection because the immune system is already activated. The body has a protein called interferon that releases a wave of immune response that interferes with the virus’s ability to replicate. However, the Coronavirus doesn’t seem to obey this rule because it appears to suppress these interferons, hence not only is Coronavirus worse, but it increases the risk of permanent complications. According to experts, the virus is somehow telling the cells not to produce interferon, thus reducing the body’s immunity to fight against other infections.

Overall Health

Depending on the severity of the Coronavirus in one’s body, some might recover or not. The truth of the matter is that if your health was extremely affected by the virus, your body might take longer to regain its strength. Experts say that for some it will take up to a year for the recovery to occur. Again, based on the condition you were in when you contracted the virus, it will influence your physical, mental, and emotional health. Some people might experience physical and cognitive impairment that results from a serious illness. These are the major concerns with COVID-19 patients. The physical impairment develops because the person has been sedated and bed-bound in the ICU for a while which results in muscle atrophy. Cognitive impairment or memory and concentration issues can be related to post-traumatic stress syndrome. Because not much about Coronavirus is known in connection with the long-term effects, people are being urged to be part of scientific studies about the illness. After all, we all want the world to go back to how it was before Coronavirus and everyone to regain their health completely.

All images by Shutterstock

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