How a respiratory disease like COVID-19 can damage the whole body

COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, but research shows the virus can also damage other organs in the body.

For some people, beating coronavirus does not always mean an end to their health issues.

“We’re starting to see early indications of some chronic problems in people who have recovered from COVID-19,” said Dr. Juan Dumois, an infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “Some of these problems are related to this virus’s ability to form blood clots.”

Those blood clots can cause a stroke, lead to permanent damage to your heart or lungs, and even require a limb to be amputated.

“What has been documented on several occasions is people who might have been hospitalized, but they got better.  They went home, a week or two later then had a complication while they were getting better,” Dumois said.

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People who develop severe COVID-19 have inflammation in the heart, which can lead to a heart attack, or result in scarring of the heart tissue so it does not pump as well.

“And what we don’t know is what happens 10 or 20 years later for someone who survived a COVID-19 episode with heart inflammation,” said Dumois.

Pneumonia with a COVID-19 infection causes a lot of inflammation in the lungs.  Experts are concerned that could lead to severe and chronic illnesses, ones that have been identified in previous coronaviruses like SARS and MERS.

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“We are learning stuff about this virus almost every day,” Dumois said.

Health experts are also still working to understand a rare but serious complication in children that is associated with COVID-19. It is called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome and at least 12 kids here in Florida have contracted it.