What Happens to Your Body When You Get COVID-19?

Till the date, the COVID-19 has spread to almost all parts of the world and has infected nearly 3.2 million people around the globe. The number of deaths is increasing day by day and finally, after five months of this virus’s emergence, the picture of what is this infection and how does it affect people is a bit clear.

Typically, COVID-19 is associated with respiratory illness but there is no data to suggest that it “only” affects the lungs. As more and more patients of coronavirus are being reported, doctors are able to see what happens to the body when a person gets COVID-19.

Coronavirus is a close relative of SARS, MERS, and common cold virus, and all of these are respiratory illnesses. This is why lungs are associated as the first organ to be affected with coronavirus. In this case, the earliest symptoms to observe are fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. These symptoms could last any time between one day to two weeks, after interacting with someone who has this virus or exposed to the virus from indirect contact.

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Fever remains the top symptom of COVID-19 by Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s coronavirus symptoms list. But it is not necessary for everyone who is infected to have a fever. A study on coronavirus patients who were hospitalized as per the severity of their symptoms didn’t have a fever, which is considered the most prominent sign of COVID-19 otherwise.

On the other side, cough is much more common in almost everyone. And only a few people actually experience troubled breathing.

In addition to these, some other symptoms observed in coronavirus positive cases included headache, body ache, nausea, diarrhea, loss of smell, and confusion.

The severity of these symptoms vary in every person and it is not necessary for the COVID-19 symptoms to be identical in every patient. For most people, this infection is mild. A report from China revealed that 81 percent of coronavirus cases showed mild symptoms and were recovered within days.

There are certain people who are more prone to COVID-19 such as old age patients, people with underlying medical conditions, and low oxygen levels.

Typically, the virus first attacks the lungs. But once it takes over the body’s immune system, other organs are also affected. This is why this infection is mild for some people and deadly for others.

Many people who have been tested positive for coronavirus have complained about digestive distress, pain, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms are different than the conventional symptoms and suggest that coronavirus not only affects the lungs but also the stomach and intestines.

Other viruses SARS and MERS were also identified in the intestinal tissues and stool sample of the infected patients. Considering this, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that coronavirus is also observed in the stool samples of diagnosed patients.

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There are chances that this virus can make its way to the heart and blood vessels as well. It might affect the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood cells, shows irregular heart rhythms, or cause a drop or increase in a person’s blood pressure. Although it is not clear all this suggests that COVID-19 could affect the cardiac function by damaging the heart.

A study on coronavirus patients revealed that many of them are having liver and kidney damage. And this was also seen in SARS and MERS cases as well.

In the case of any infection; the immune system activates itself and prevents disease. But if the virus or bacteria succeeds to take over, it collapses the immune system and damages the body as a whole. In the case of COVID-19, there is a lot of damage reported to the immune system.

Overall, it is not just the lungs that are affected in COVID-19 but on the basis of certain factors, all other visceral organs are also affected.


Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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