The effect of coronavirus on the lungs is still an open question. At the start of the pandemic, many doctors expressed fears that the coronavirus could cause not only shortness of breath, which many covid patients complain of, but also irreversible lung damage. Including lead to fibrosis - a condition in which lung tissue continues to die off even after the infection has passed. However, at a recent meeting of the European Respiratory Society, doctors presented early results from several small studies that offer a glimmer of hope, according to The New York Times.
So, doctors from a clinic in the French city of Dielephi conducted a study involving 19 patients who spent several weeks in intensive care units, were bedridden or intubated. Their ability to breathe on their own was impaired, and their diaphragm, the main respiratory muscle that allows the lungs to expand, weakened. Despite this, after a while most of the patients showed signs of recovery.
Doctors at the University Hospital of Internal Medicine in Innsbruck have seen similar improvements in their 86 patients, who also spent a long time in the intensive care unit. Even after discharge, many patients were still coughing and gasping for breath, however, when they returned for examination a few weeks later, CT showed improvements: the lungs were cleared of fluid, and the so-called frosted glass effect, a sign of inflammation, was almost not observed in most. If at the time of discharge from the hospital 88% of patients had lung damage, but after 12 weeks - only 56%. Their condition also improved: they coughed less, breathed easier, and could walk longer.
As pulmonologists explain, the lungs have internal self-healing mechanisms. After an infection, dead cells, damaged tissues and fluids remain in the lungs, but as soon as the disease passes, recovery begins: new cells are created, the old architecture of the lungs is recreated. Even when scars form in the lung tissue, this serves a specific purpose: for the body, it is a signal that the damaged area cannot carry out oxygen exchange, and therefore blood is not sent there, which is redirected to healthier parts of the body.
Doctors do not yet know how long it takes patients to regain their dock strength and endurance. It is known that in the case of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) - respiratory failure that bears similarities to Covid-19, full recovery may take more than a year, but there are no such statistics for coronavirus yet. One thing is clear: the earlier patients begin their rehabilitation, the faster they begin to bounce back. Breathing and exercise can help this recovery.