COVID-19 may leave lasting lung damage

OKEECHOBEE — How long does it take to recover from COVID-19? Health researchers say that depends on the individual. Some doctors believe some people may suffer lasting lung damage.

In an article on bannerhealth.com, Dr. Christian Bime, medical director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., noted they have been studying COVID-19 cases for less than a year.

It may be years before the long-term health effects from COVID-19 are understood, he explained.

“We are learning something new every day,” said Dr. Bime. “Our understanding of COVID-19’s long-term effects will depend greatly on ongoing studies over the next decades.”

He told bannerhealth.com, people who have recovered from acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, may deal with:
• Limited lung capacity compared to their peers;
• Psychiatric issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, cognitive impairment and anxiety, due to the trauma of the illness and treatment;
• Kidney complications, which could lead to a need for long-term dialysis; and,
• Poor conditioning due to limited lung and/or organ function.

According to hopkinsmedicine.org, Dr. Panagis Gallatsatos, an expert in lung disease at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, explained, “COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, ARDS. Sepsis, another possible complication of COVID-19, can also cause lasting harm to the lungs and other organs.

“While most people recover from pneumonia without any lasting lung damage, the pneumonia associated with COVID-19 may be severe. Even after the disease has passed, lung injury may result in breathing difficulties that might take months to improve.”

According to Healthline.com, researchers are studying the long-term effects of COVID-19. “Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, seen often in severe COVID-19 illness, sometimes develop permanent lung damage or fibrosis as well,” Dr. Andrew Martin, chairman of pulmonary medicine at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, N.J., told Healthline.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also warns that researchers do not yet know if a person who recovers from COVID-19 can be infected again. “CDC and partners are investigating to determine if a person can get sick with COVID-19 more than once. Until we know more, continue to take steps to protect yourself and others,” advises the CDC.

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