What human organs are affected by COVID-19?

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Lungs, liver, kidneys, heart, brain, intestines and stomach – and that, perhaps, is not all.

Since the advent, the new coronavirus has been greatly underestimated. Mortality is lower than that of influenza, relative safety for healthy people, asymptomatic behavior – all this is true, but, as it turned out, only partially. And at the forefront is the question of the consequences that COVID-19 will leave in the body after itself.

It is still difficult to fully respond to it, since very little time has passed since the infection of the first patients. But, starting in January 2020, one after another, studies are appearing that fix the damage from COVID-19 to completely different organs. The list of possible symptoms is also expanding. In the February report of an international group of WHO scientists, the main signs of infection were coughing, fever and shortness of breath, but now they have added diarrhea, nausea, weakness, abdominal pain, headaches, loss of smell, pressure jumps, fainting, and even partial memory loss.

All this speaks of a large-scale attack of the virus on the entire body, and not just on the upper respiratory tract or on the lungs. It turns out that SARS-CoV-2 is not just a respiratory infection. The heart, kidneys, liver, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and even blood vessels suffer from it.

How the virus enters the body

There are two main methods for transmitting viral particles – drip and contact. So usually a person infects himself by touching his hands with a donkey virus, eyes, mouth or nose. But what happens next is not clear to everyone.

It is believed that in a large proportion of infected people the disease is asymptomatic, that is, there are no obvious signs of infection. The body produces antibodies, and the person recovers safely. In fact, everything is not so simple. Firstly, there are serious reasons to doubt that asymptomatic patients generally exist. In one form or another, the virus still manifests itself in almost everyone, recent studies say. Secondly, the amount of antibodies produced by the body can also vary greatly depending on the patient. Someone has a lot of them, and some of those who have been ill have none at all. Why this is so is also not completely clear, but the basic version says that the harder a person has suffered the disease, the more antibodies appear in his blood.

And the severity of the disease, in turn, may depend not only on the age of the patient and the weakness of his body, but also on the initial amount of viral particles that he picked up. The fewer they are, the more likely it is to get rid of only coughing and fever.

Autopsy of patients who have died of the virus and examination of patients or who have been ill show that traces of SARS-CoV-2 are found, for example, in the lungs, nasopharynx, tears of a person, his feces, kidneys, liver and heart muscle. How exactly they get there remains to be seen, but there are already versions.

Once in the body through the eyes, nose or mouth, the spiked proteins on the surface of the viral particle interact with specific ACE2 enzymes lying on the surface of any body cells. The problem is that spikes and ACE2 have common properties, so the enzyme opens the way for SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell. And then begins the almost factory production of viral particles, which multiply exponentially. The first stop is then the upper respiratory tract, that is, the nasopharynx, larynx, bronchi. In some patients, this stage is all limited. In others, the virus goes further – into the lungs. And causes, as you know, pneumonia. The virus enters the digestive system.

The ACE2 enzyme plays a rather important role in the digestive tract, in addition, the tract has a very similar microbiome to the pulmonary, together they form the so-called intestinal-pulmonary axis. These two factors lead to the fact that a person soon has respiratory symptoms due to diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and the like from the gastrointestinal tract Further, everything happens along the chain – any organs on the cells of which there is ACE2 can be affected. And this is the heart, and blood vessels, and the liver, and kidneys, and the nervous system.

What are the consequences for the body

The key question here is not even which organs will be affected, but how seriously they will suffer. Because it is one thing to get sick and fully recover, and another to restore the body for a long time already after the virus has been defeated. In mid-March, the British Ministry of Health reported that they estimated that about half of patients hospitalized with coronavirus would subsequently need medical attention. After discharge.

To similar conclusions is the experience of treating those infected with relatives of the current coronavirus SARS (SARS) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The recovery of some patients took many years.

As in the cases with previous coronaviruses, after recovering from COVID-19, the first thing to look at for everyone who is ill is the lungs.

“I know for sure that after a person has had a coronavirus infection, he may have lung damage (fibrosis), which subsequently leads to impaired respiratory function. It may even be for those who had a mild illness, ”the head of the department of microbiology, virology and immunology of the medical and preventive faculty of the First Moscow State Medical University named after I.M. told the newspaper VZGLYAD. Sechenova, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vitaliy Zverev.

Fibrosis of the lungs leads to difficulties with breathing in the most basic situations – when climbing stairs, when jogging, and so on. He is being treated, but this process is not at all fast.

Since there are still no studies regarding COVID-19 regarding the long-term effects of the virus, you can refer to the works on SARS and MERS. The SARS epidemic took place at the beginning of the zero, and so far there is much more research on it. One of them covered the 15-year period of life of those who were ill – from 2003 to 2018. According to him, every third patient left scars, due to which the volume of the lungs decreased. Recovery took up to six years. Work on MERS also showed the same numbers – a third of those who were ill got rid of the infection with scars, or fibrosis.

Among other consequences – thrombosis, which in some cases can lead to strokes and pulmonary embolism, that is, to obstruction of the arteries in the lungs. According to Chinese scientists, 5% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had strokes. The statistics are not too scary, but they get a little worse if you consider that not all the elderly people affected in this case. There were also cases of strokes among young people. However, in the presence of concomitant diseases like diabetes. After strokes, only half of the patients usually return to a full life.

Pulmonary embolism, which remains in about 30% of patients who have been ill, can also be expensive: it usually results in shortness of breath, weakness, rapid heartbeat – and, as a consequence, a ban on any physical activity.

It occurs with coronavirus and deep vein thrombosis, usually talking about the legs. If the disease is not recognized in time, there is a risk of death or amputation of the limb. This happened to Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who eventually lost his leg. He came out of a coma only on May 12.

It is not completely clear which part of the patients develop complications associated with blood clots. There is only data on critically ill patients – among them thrombosis is possible in every third.

Since there are many notorious ACE2 enzymes in the cells of the heart, problems can arise with it, too. Due to the virus, the heart muscle becomes inflamed, which can lead both to a heart attack and myocarditis or cardiomyopathy . With myocarditis, the heart has difficulty transferring oxygen to other organs, with cardiomyopathy it is difficult for him to pump blood. Symptoms in both cases are folded – shortness of breath and high fatigue. Possible consequences include sudden death.

The least studied area is neurological consequences. It is only known that a third of Chinese hospitalized with “covid” complained of headaches, dizziness, problems with smell, vision and memory. There is also evidence that among severe patients, such symptoms were observed in 90% . Some scholars admit that patients who have been ill may still have problems with concentration of attention, memory, and peripheral nerves responsible for limb function, but so far there is no evidence of this .


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