Four Complications To Look Out For With The Deadly Coronavirus

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Complications of Coronavirus 2019

The discovery of a novel strain of the virus in China has compelled nations to issue travel advisories while causing the World Health Organisation to call an emergency meeting on the matter. Thus, public awareness regarding this issue has to be raised in order to minimize the number of deaths. Like its siblings SARS and MERS, the virus may infect both upper and lower respiratory tract thus causing symptoms like sneezing, dry cough as well as breathing difficulty.

Aside from that, patients may manifest general symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, and fatigue. Occasionally, productive cough (a cough that produces phlegm), headache, coughing up blood and diarrhea are observed. It can take about a week before an infected person feels sick enough to seek treatment. In fact, if this problem is left untreated, it may cause a spectrum of complications and even death. The complications that may arise from this infection are as follow:

  1. Pneumonia
    Pneumonia is an infection that leads to the inflammation of the lungs. The symptoms of pneumonia occur when one’s lungs become inflamed as their immune system tries to fight off the viral infection. This inflammation disrupts the flow of gas exchange in the lungs and finally causes breathing difficulty. Severe pneumonia may cause extensive damage to the lung and sets the lung up for secondary bacterial pneumonia.

  2. ARDS
    In a more severe case, the patient may experience Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). This is a life-threatening condition that causes low oxygen levels in the blood and eventually leads to multiple organ failures. Patients with this condition usually require mechanical ventilation and breathing support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

  3. Kidney Injury
    Damage to major organs especially kidney may occur due to the effects of severe infections or lack of oxygen being delivered throughout the body. Vital organs could not survive too long without an adequate and continuous oxygen supply. Sometimes even with intensive care and the use of a ventilator, the lungs are too damaged to deliver enough oxygen. Damage to any of these major organs can be very serious and require additional treatment. Extensive organ damage usually results in a greater risk of mortality.

  4. Sepsis
    A patient infected by Coronavirus may die from septic shock. It is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when the viral infection has spread all over the body especially into the bloodstream. In response to this, the blood vessel will start to widen and fail to maintain its structural integrity. This will then lead to low blood pressure and eventually reduces tissue perfusion, causing tissue damage.

Some people have no complications at all and others seem to develop many complications depending on how weak their immune system is. This tends to be more common in people with weakened immune systems. For instance babies, pregnant mothers, HIV patients, patients who are on long-term steroids and older adults. Thus, patients with low immune system are greatly advised to be extra cautious regarding this disease as they are prone to get contracted by the virus. As the saying goes ‘prevention is always better than cure”.

Written by: Dr Mohd Ramzdhan Bin Mohd Masdar

MD (Crimea State Medical University)

1 Feb 2020
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