(WUTR-TV) — By now, most people know that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and in mild to severe cases, inflammation and fluid builds up in the lungs, causing breathing issues. Those who are fortunate to recover can develop damage to their lungs.
“The alveoli to function they need very thin walls so that the oxygen can move through it and into the blood stream. When there’s inflammation the walls get thicker and then the scars tissue form and so the thickness doesn’t go away it stays there, and that’s the damage, that’s the long term damage is form the scarring from that inflammation.” – Dr. Kent Hall, Chief Physician Executive, MVHS
Dr. Hall says the severity and duration of the illness will determine the amount of permanent damage to the lungs.
“If you go to the absolute worse thing there have been people who have actually needed lung transplants. . . In fairly severe cases you will you will require supplemental oxygen for a period of time.” – Dr. Kent Hall, Chief Physician Executive, MVHS
Even after coming off of oxygen, you could lose some respiratory stamina and may be more prone to other infections.
“Part of the scarring actually damages the protective mechanisms that are built into your lungs to basically keep bacteria and fluid and things like that out of it so it makes your more prone to getting like recurrent pneumonia, not necessarily from COVID, just recurrent pneumonia from any kind of a bacteria.” – Dr. Kent Hall, Chief Physician Executive, MVHS
Those with respiratory illnesses like asthma, may develop more breathing complications. Dr. Kent says the scar tissue may never fully but that doesn’t mean your lungs can’t function normally.
“They’ll have a little bit of scar tissue but they don’t really notice it because your lungs probably have anywhere from 150%-200% more capability than what you need to survive.” – Dr. Kent Hall, Chief Physician Executive, MVHS