Image: iStockphoto / Udom Pinyo
What happens to your lungs when you have corona
What exactly happens in the lungs when the Covid 19 virus spreads? And why is the disease so different compared to well-known infections?
Current findings show what is going on in the lungs as soon as it develops the coronavirus and, above all, it becomes clear: Covid-19 is sometimes very different from what doctors have previously recognized from other diseases. From a rapid course of illness to severe lack of oxygen – we have briefly summarized the three most exciting differences.
Suddenly, patients feel bad
At first, many corona patients still feel fine. The condition only worsens after about a week – but then often dramatically. This is a clear difference to the creeping, “normal” flu.
Doctors have no clear explanation for this peculiarity. But the deterioration is apparently related to the migration of the viruses from the throat to the lungs, experts in the “Spiegel” suspect. In some patients, the viruses were not even detectable in the throat at the time of pneumonia.
Means: As long as the viruses are in the throat, the patients are still quite well. If they migrate to the lungs, the general condition deteriorates quickly.
The body lacks oxygen, but it still feels normal to breathe
Although the body is already experiencing a massive lack of oxygen, many patients still feel no breathlessness. “It’s a combination that you almost never see,” say doctors in the journal “Intensive Care Medicine”.
Physicians could apparently explain the explanation for this on the basis of CT images: In the lungs of Covid-19 patients, much less fluid accumulates during inflammation than is the case with well-known pneumonia. Only this liquid makes the tissue immobile – the patient can only breathe with difficulty. In Covid 19 patients, however, this uncomfortable condition occurs late.
In summary: With Covid-19, fluid collects slowly in the lungs, which is why many patients still find breathing to be completely normal for a relatively long time.
An unusually large amount of blood is collected
With this knowledge, the obvious question now is: So why does the body still have so little oxygen? The “Spiegel” quotes the pneumologist Michael Pfeifer: “The patients have several foci of inflammation in the lungs.” According to current knowledge, an unusually large amount of blood collects in the vessels of these foci of inflammation. This means that the transport route for oxygen is virtually blocked in many places and the body suffers from a deficiency.
To summarize briefly: Blood collections in the inflammation focus ensure that the oxygen does not get into the blood sufficiently when breathing. A shortage arises.