When it comes to symptoms of COVID-19, much attention is on the lesser-known warning signs. The lungs have been shown to be one of the body parts most affected, but what happens to them and are they able to recover after the virus has left the body?
Dr Jon Thogmartin, medical examiner for Pinellas and Pasco County, has studied autopsies on COVID-19 patients and cited his own experience in a study published by Scripps Research.
The analysis suggested that up to 45 percent of those infected with the novel coronavirus were asymptomatic, while also noting that these individuals appeared to suffer lung damage.
Dr Thogmartin said: “When the person dies, you can find lungs that don’t look and feel like lungs anymore.”
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What happens to the lungs which have been infected with the deadly virus?
John Hopkins Medicine said the lungs become filled with fluid and inflamed, leading to breathing difficulties when infected with COVID-19.
The health site continued: “For some people, breathing problems can become severe enough to require treatment at the hospital with oxygen or even a ventilator.
“The pneumonia that COVID-19 causes tend to take hold in both lungs.
“Air sacs in the lungs fill with fluid, limiting their ability to take in oxygen and causing shortness of breath, cough and other symptoms.
“While most people recover from pneumonia without any lasting lung damage, the pneumonia associated with COVID-19 may be severe and even after the disease has passed, lung injury may result in breathing difficulties that might take months to improve.”
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When a person is infected with COVID-19 they will begin to develop a cough or a fever and this is a result of the infection reaching the respiratory tree which is the air passages which conduct air between the lungs and the outside.
The lining of the respiratory tree becomes inflamed and this in turn irritates the nerves in the lining of the airway.
Daniel Oran, a scientist with the Scripps Research told KSWB-TV that the lung issues were observed in the majority of asymptomatic individuals.
He said: “Interestingly, all the asymptomatic people look and feel fine, but when researchers did a CT scan on their lungs, in 50 to 100 percent of the cases, they actually found abnormalities.
“When they look at these CT scans, it’s hazy and looks like you’re looking through a dirty piece of glass.
“What that means is there’s something abnormal about their lungs.”