Frightening New Things Doctors Say COVID-19 Does to Your Body
Coronavirus "goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney, and other organs," one doctor says.
By now you know that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus mostly spread by the transmission of aerosolized droplets from person-to-person contact. Symptoms, of course, include shortness of breath, coughing, and congestion. But doctors are just beginning to fully comprehend some of the more insidious and harmful effects that COVID-19 has on the rest of your body—in both the short and long term.
New research indicates that the coronavirus attacks essentially all of your major organs, especially the brain, and can saddle your body with an incredibly long and arduous recovery—assuming, of course, that you actually recover at all. Oxford University's Helen Salisbury, MD, wrote in the British Medical Journal on June 23 that though COVID-19 symptoms usually last around two to three weeks, upwards of 10 percent of patients will experience symptoms that persist for much, much longer—perhaps indefinitely. Read on to find out the unique effects COVID-19 has on your body. And for some more up-to-the-minute, expert-backed health advice, make sure you know the 3 New Coronavirus Symptoms the CDC Just Announced.
It affects basically all of your major organs.
A study published in April in the journal Protein & Cell found that COVID-19 spreads by first entering the lungs and then infecting the cells lining your blood vessels—a key step in its full-body invasion that allows the viral particles to circulate throughout your bloodstream.
"We thought this was only a respiratory virus," Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told Reuters recently. "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 at the beginning."
It remains unclear whether or not the resulting organ damage, according to Nature, "is directly caused by the virus or by secondary complications of the virus," but the damage is undeniable. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
It really targets your brain.
"The virus can also cause neurological complications that range from headache, dizziness, and loss of taste or smell to seizures and confusion," according to Reuters. "Recovery can be slow, incomplete and costly, with a huge impact on quality of life."
A new study published on June 25 in the journal Lancet Psychiatry revealed that COVID-19 can even cause psychosis and lead to dementia. "What was particularly interesting was that this spanned the neurological spectrum," senior author Benedict Michael, PhD, a neurologist at the University of Liverpool, told Stat News.
It can cause blood clotting that leads to strokes.
The Reuters article also notes that those suffering from coronavirus may experience disorders arising from blood clotting that "can lead to strokes, and extreme inflammation that attacks multiple organs."
It's been well reported that patients who are as young as 30 years old have experienced strokes as a result of COVID-19. As Villanova University's Theresa Capriotti, DO, MSN, RN, explained to Healthline: "The coronavirus has been shown to cause development of [small clots that] can travel to the lung and obstruct blood flow to the lung, which is called pulmonary embolism, or travel to brain circulation and cause ischemic stroke."
Capriotti added: "It can occur in any age group and it occurs suddenly." And for more alarming news, check out 50 Percent of Coronavirus Patients Experience This Terrifying Side Effect.
Physical recovery takes a long, long time—maybe forever.
Extreme fatigue is an overlooked side effect of COVID-19. In fact, those who have had severe cases of the virus will require weeks of rehabilitation to restore their bodies. "I tell all of my post-hospital patients you're going to be tired for a month. You're going to be tired for six weeks," said Stephen Cleves, MD, an internal medicine specialist, in an interview with WKRC, in late May.
But according Oxford University's Salisbury, writing in BMJ, there's no guarantee you'll even bounce back. "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. And for more coronavirus news, make sure you're aware of The Rare Weather Event About to Make Coronavirus Even Worse.