Symptoms of atypical pneumonia tend to develop slowly
Infections with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are so dangerous because they cause atypical pneumonia in up to 20 percent of cases. Doctors call this form of pneumonia atypical because it is not – as is usually the case – caused by an infection with bacteria. Pneumonia caused by bacteria is known as typical pneumonia. The most common culprits are bacteria such as pneumococci and Haemophilus influenza B (HiB).
Atypical pneumonia such as COVID-19 usually develops more slowly than typical pneumonia. In COVID-19 pneumonia, both lungs are usually affected. As a result of the infection, the lungs swell, and fluid collects. The cause: In the fight against viruses, defense cells of the body’s immune system (lymphocytes) produce certain proteins (cytokines) that trigger an inflammatory reaction in the lung tissue. Fluid flows into the alveoli. The combination of inflamed cells and fluid entry into the vesicles means that less oxygen enters the blood. At the same time, less used carbon dioxide is released from the blood through the lungs and breath. Shortness of breath, paleness, and other symptoms are the result. If this process continues untreated, it leads to a slow and excruciating death from suffocation.
Sepsis As A Life-Threatening Complication Of Covid-19
A life-threatening complication of COVID-19 pneumonia is sepsis, which is also known colloquially as blood poisoning. Sepsis is a very dangerous condition. In the course of blood poisoning, more and more vital organs fail. Such multi-organ failure is fatal if left untreated. Even with maximum intensive care medicine, around 40 percent of those affected do not survive sepsis.
Lung Damage Possibly Even After A Mild Course
Mild infections with SARS-CoV-2 may also cause permanent lung damage. A small study by the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong is often quoted in the media, in which the lung capacity of the patients was restricted after healing and the lungs were damaged – possibly by lung fibroids. So far, however, it is not clear whether the lung function impairments were caused by COVID-19 pneumonia or, for example, did not exist before the corona infection.