CHICAGO (Reuters) – Scientists are solely beginning to grasp the huge array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, a few of which can have lingering results on sufferers and health methods for years to come, in accordance to medical doctors and infectious illness specialists.

Besides the respiratory points that go away sufferers gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 assaults many organ methods, in some instances inflicting catastrophic injury.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” mentioned Dr. Eric Topol, a heart specialist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.

In addition to respiratory misery, sufferers with COVID-19 can expertise blood clotting issues that may lead to strokes, and excessive irritation that assaults a number of organ methods. The virus may trigger neurological problems that vary from headache, dizziness and lack of style or scent to seizures and confusion.

And restoration might be sluggish, incomplete and expensive, with a big impact on high quality of life.

The broad and various manifestations of COVID-19 are considerably distinctive, mentioned Dr. Sadiya Khan, a heart specialist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

With influenza, folks with underlying coronary heart circumstances are additionally at increased threat of problems, Khan mentioned. What is shocking about this virus is the extent of the problems occurring exterior the lungs.

Khan believes there will likely be an enormous healthcare expenditure and burden for people who’ve survived COVID-19.


Patients who have been in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks will want to spend in depth time in rehab to regain mobility and energy.

FILE PHOTO: A health employee takes care of a affected person contaminated with the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), inside an Intensive Care Unit of the University of Chile’s medical hospital in Santiago, Chile, June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo

“It can take up to seven days for every one day that you’re hospitalized to recover that type of strength,” Khan mentioned. “It’s harder the older you are, and you may never get back to the same level of function.”

While a lot of the focus has been on the minority of sufferers who expertise extreme illness, medical doctors more and more are wanting to the wants of sufferers who weren’t sick sufficient to require hospitalization, however are nonetheless struggling months after first turning into contaminated.

Studies are just getting underway to understand the long-term results of an infection, Jay Butler, deputy director of infectious illnesses at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, informed reporters in a phone briefing on Thursday.

“We hear anecdotal reports of people who have persistent fatigue, shortness of breath,” Butler mentioned. “How long that will last is hard to say.”

While coronavirus signs sometimes resolve in two or three weeks, an estimated 1 in 10 expertise extended signs, Dr. Helen Salisbury of the University of Oxford wrote in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.

Salisbury mentioned many of her sufferers have regular chest X-rays and no signal of irritation, however they’re nonetheless not again to regular.

“If you previously ran 5k three times a week and now feel breathless after a single flight of stairs, or if you cough incessantly and are too exhausted to return to work, then the fear that you may never regain your previous health is very real,” she wrote.

Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious illnesses at Northwestern Medicine, reviewed present scientific literature and located about half of sufferers hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological problems, corresponding to dizziness, decreased alertness, problem concentrating, issues of scent and style, seizures, strokes, weak point and muscle ache.

Koralnik, whose findings have been printed in the Annals of Neurology, has began an outpatient clinic for COVID-19 sufferers to examine whether or not these neurological problems are short-term or everlasting.

Khan sees parallels with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Much of the early focus was on deaths.

FILE PHOTO: An undated scanning electron microscope picture exhibits SARS-CoV-2 (spherical gold objects), also called novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19, rising from the floor of cells cultured in the lab and remoted from a affected person in the U.S. NIAID-RML/Handout through REUTERS

“In recent years, we’ve been very focused on the cardiovascular complications of HIV survivorship,” Khan mentioned.

(This story corrects spelling of physician’s title to Khan as an alternative of Kahn in final two paragraphs)

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; extra reporting by Caroline Humer and Nancy Lapid in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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