COVID-19 marked its entry towards the beginning of 2020 and quickly spread its territories across the world. The entire planet had gone for a shut down. Due to combined efforts taken by the government, healthcare workers and those from all sectors, COVID-19 death and spread rate came down considerably, enabling people to get back to their normal routines with few restrictions, only to face a second wave which turned out to be way more aggressive and harmful than the initial one.
So it is of utmost importance to understand what this virus does to our body and how differently does it affect each and every person.
Coronavirus and COVID-19
Coronaviruses are encapsulated, single stranded RNA viruses that generally cause mild cold, running nose and headache in human beings. However, they may even lead to life-threatening conditions such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS). SARS Co V-2 (COVID 19) usually presents with mild non-specific symptoms like, fever, malaise, headache and myalgia. Loss of smell and taste, although widely considered confirmatory has not been found in all patients and can also occur in almost all viral fevers. About 80% of patients exhibit these mild symptoms and recover with adequate rest and home care. Whereas this condition has accelerated to severe stages due to complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, internal haemorrhages, clot formations, etc. for almost 20% of those affected. This happens when the epithelial membrane lining the inner surface of lungs get inflamed (filled with fluid or puss), making it difficult for proper gas exchange, thereby lowering the oxygen saturation level in blood. This further leads to decreased oxygen exchange in other organ systems leading to visceral damage.
Among the 'Risk Group' are the people who are:
» Old aged (mostly above 60 years)
» Suffering from other chronic illnesses like Chronic Lung Disease, Heart disease, Organ Failure etc.
» With a history of recurrent/recent respiratory infections
» Suffering from Autoimmune conditions or have weak immunity
» Habituated to drinking or smoking
» Having lifestyle disorders like obesity and diabetes mellitus
With no medicine or treatment available yet, deciphering the patho-physiology has been of highest priority in order to bring down its spread and mortality. It has been found that COVID-19 like the other coronaviruses can cause progressive lung damage at micro-vascular levels.
What does COVID-19 do to our body?
To start with, autopsy reports of patients who died from COVID 19 were collected and examined. Few common findings showed that:
» Alveolar Capillary Microthrombi (microscopic lumps of blood clots) were found in all phases of severe COVID-19
» Alveolar capillary damage had lead to progression of the disease, causing development of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
» Although the lung parenchyma (the portion of the lungs involved in gas exchange) seemed normal during the early stages, there were notable levels of oxygenation disturbance in patients.
» Multiple organ dysfunctions were found in patients.
» A prevalence of Deep Vein Thrombosis (a blood-clot forms in a vein located deep inside your body) and Pulmonary Embolism (a blood clot gets lodged in an artery in the lung, blocking blood flow to part of the lung) was emphasised.
Apart from these, symptoms like fever, myalgia, headache, bronchitis, throat and ear infections have been seen at mild and moderate levels.