Even Without COVID-19 Symptoms, You Could Have This Dangerous Side Effect

Patients who seem otherwise healthy could still be at risk for this, according to new research.

Unsurprisingly, many who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or experience serious cases of the virus have been shown to have long-lasting or potentially permanent lung damage. But a new study indicates that even those without any telltale COVID-19 symptoms could be experiencing a potentially dangerous coronavirus side effect silently. Yes, according to recent research, asymptomatic coronavirus patients are still at risk of developing lung damage.

A recently published study in the journal Nature Medicine found that a significant number of COVID-19 patients exhibited signs of lung inflammation while feeling otherwise healthy. According to their findings, the scientists determined that nearly 67 percent of the asymptomatic individuals studied had damage in one lung, and 33 percent had damage in both lungs.

Lung x-ray

"To find so many asymptomatic patients with such significant changes on CTs is quite surprising," Alvin Ing, MD, a professor of respiratory medicine at Macquarie University, who was not involved with the study, told NPR.

This is not the first study to find such results in asymptomatic patients either. A recent report from China found that a majority of patients with no symptoms had developed lung lesions.

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Doctors say this level of pulmonary distress is on par with walking pneumonia and believe it's often only temporary. And the good news is they think there's little chance that such mild cases would result in lifelong effects. "I suspect that, if you followed up with these asymptomatic people in several months, most of their CT scans would be completely normal unless they were known to later develop symptoms," Jennifer Taylor-Cousar, MD, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, told NPR. And for more on potential COVID-19 side effects, check out You Could Develop This Serious Condition If You Get Coronavirus.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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