Pneumonia and COVID-19 can mean long term lung damage.
Pneumonia infects the air sacs of the lungs. These sacs are crucial to our survival, because the air we breathe in is filtered and prepared for use in the bloodstream. When these air sacs become ineffective due to damage, old age, or infection, they cannot release enough oxygen into the bloodstream to keep a person alert and also affect the organs of the body, causing them to shut down one by one. Pneumonia is an infection that preys on the air sac in the lung, causing them to swell up and fill with mucus. In severe cases the air sacs become spongy and porous and can no longer perform their job of transferring vital oxygen into the bloodstream. If this continues for too long the victim lapses into a coma as the brain literally asphyxiates, and then eventually dies.
This is what is happening to some patients who contracted COVID-19 and then came down with pneumonia. Doctors were at first confident that regular medical treatment and prescription drugs for pneumonia would be effective against the pandemic variety. But as the months and now years have gone by, patients who survived COVID-19 and pneumonia and got better are now sometimes relapsing into bronchial distress and even collapsed lungs. This is a grim reminder that the long term effects of the pandemic are still not clearly understood. And effective treatment for long term health problems due to COVID-19 are still not in place.
A big part of the problem is that the immune system reacts differently to pneumonia caused by COVID-19 than to any other type of pneumonia infection. Those patients with COVID-19 related pneumonia retained more fluid in their lungs over a longer period of time, because the immune system apparently kept flushing out toxins long after the need to do so was gone. Hence there is more fluid, fluid that is not reabsorbed back into the body, in Covid-19 pneumonia patients than in regular pneumonia patients. This fluid is a rabid breeding ground for germs and viruses that can suddenly flare up in the lungs at any time for years down the road. This is grim news for patients who thought they had survived the ravages of COVID-19 induced pneumonia.
Another challenge doctors face in the long term treatment of COVID-19 induced pneumonia is that the COVID-19 virus itself attacks the immune system in the lungs, and is not completely eradicated by most standard treatments. This weakens the immune system, sometimes permanently, so that infections can reappear that would otherwise be destroyed by a healthy immune system.
Tests with stronger anti-inflammatory drugs have encouraged medical researchers to believe that the long term damage done by COVID-19 pneumonia can be minimized and even lessened, as long as the patient continues an extended regimen of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, and watchful breathing – avoiding smog and smoke as much as possible. Smoking, needless to say, is contraindicated in all cases.
If you’ve had breathing difficulties associated with the COVID-19 virus that have NOT developed into pneumonia you’re not out of the woods yet. You stand a very real chance of lung damage from things like bronchitis or even the flu. So be careful.