With over 4.5 million confirmed cases of COVID19 in America today, and 155.000 reported deaths, the mortality rate is about 3.4 percent. So, about 96.6 percent of infected people won’t die. Most won’t die but many won’t recover either. Many will suffer long-term damages to various organs of the body. Evidence shows that COVID19 may cause extreme damage to the brain, kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, and can also cause amputations from blood clots, onset diabetes, and erectile dysfunction or impotence.
These problems are being reported with many patients who are asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms. These problems are also showing up in people who contracted COVID19 months ago and have “recovered” yet, find themselves with new life-changing damages. Like a 22-year-old male nurse with no pre-existing conditions. He recovered from COVID in May. Last week, his mother got a call from an ER department. They said her son walked into the hospital. Within hours, he had to be intubated. And, sadly they told her, he was paralyzed from the neck down.
COVID19 is a malicious menace to our bodies. It is probably the most sinister virus we have ever faced. It has so many secret, sadistic, side effects that pop up at various times, from asymptomatic to pre-symptomatic to post-symptomatic to months after recovered. These debilitating attacks come without warning. And with no rhyme or reason doctors are confused. It is non-discriminating. It attacks the young and healthy, older people with no comorbidities and even children and babies.
When your immune system reacts to a COVID19 infection, the response causes inflammation in various parts of the body. We’ll examine what that does to the different organs it affects.
Coronavirus can also lead to neurological complications, including delirium, brain inflammation, stroke, and nerve damage. These may manifest as seizures, memory loss, unusual speech, hallucinations, cognitive difficulties, and blood clots which can be fatal.
COVID19 makes your blood thick and sticky which causes it to clot. Many hospitals put COVID patients on blood thinners as soon as they’re admitted for this reason. Even though COVID is a respiratory disease that causes Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and pneumonia, many people die from blood clots in the brain or the heart.
COVID19 impacts the lungs severely, even in cases of people who have never had symptoms or weren’t ever hospitalized. Only CAT scans can show the damage. However, these effects can be mild to severe. From shortness of breath to complete loss of lung functions. Common problems include shortness of breath, asthma, COPD, or an inadequate oxygen saturation level which will require you to carry oxygen with you at all times.
Dr. Christian Bime explained, “The virus replicates within infected cells, multiplying quickly until cells burst. It doesn’t take long for the virus to spread. Every moment counts. Early diagnosis could be the key to decreasing your risk and the potential for long-term lung damage.” So, the earlier you get medical treatment for COVID the better.
This week, a 28-year-old female spoke at a news conference after being released from the hospital following her recovery from COVID19. She wanted to thank the family of the person who donated their lungs to her. When she awoke in the ICU, she had no idea that she had been given a double lung transplant.
COVID19 is known as a respiratory infection, but it can also cause long-term kidney damage. Patients who have no history of kidney damage are ending up with acute kidney injury, which could leave them at higher risk of chronic kidney disease and dialysis.
When your kidneys fail and you are put on dialysis to stay alive, you MUST get treatments 3 days a week at a dialysis treatment center which takes about 4 hours. You are usually very tired and weak after treatment. Some hospitals have found themselves in short supply of dialysis equipment, or nurses trained to administer this level of care in the ICU.
“A number of patients going into the hospital to be treated for COVID19 are coming out as kidney patients,” Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation, said. “We believe this may be a looming healthcare crisis that will put a greater strain on hospitals, dialysis clinics and patients, for whom chronic kidney disease will be a lasting remnant of the Coronavirus crisis––even after a vaccine is hopefully found.”
What COVID19 can do to the kidneys is on par with what the virus can do to the liver, it can cause acute liver injury and it could cause septic shock. Two published case studies about patients with severe COVID19 infections from the Seattle, WA area, reported septic shock, severe enough to require drugs to support the heart and circulation, in almost 70% of patients.
The Global Sepsis Alliance has stated that COVID19 can cause sepsis, the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection that can lead to organ damage and death. In the U.S., one in three patients who die in a hospital, died of sepsis. Overall, COVID19 can have a vast impact on virtually all organ systems, and the severity of its impact on the organs is directly associated with survival.
It can also cause sepsis psychosis. This is considered a sign of organ dysfunction and is associated with increased mortality. Mild disorientation or confusion is especially common in elderly individuals. Other manifestations include apprehension, anxiety, and agitation.
The pancreas controls our body’s production of insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. An international group of diabetes experts believes that some people may develop diabetes for the first time due to severe COVID19. A panel of 17 diabetes specialists from around the world suspect that there is a two-way relationship between diabetes and COVID19.
COVID-19 is associated with life-threatening blood clots in the arteries of the legs, according to a study published in Radiology. Researchers said COVID19 patients with symptoms of inadequate blood supply to the lower extremities, tend to have larger clots and a significantly higher rate of amputation and death, than uninfected people with the same condition.
Gregg Garfield, age 54, contracted COVID19 while on a ski trip in Italy in February. He was hospitalized at a Southern California hospital. Within 48 hours of his arrival, Garfield’s condition deteriorated significantly, and he was placed on a ventilator. Doctors gave him a 1% chance of survival.
“Medically speaking, I should not be here,” Garfield told KTLA last week.
He ticked off a long list of complications he suffered as a consequence of COVID: “from MRSA, to sepsis, to kidney failure, to liver failure, pulmonary embolisms, and burst lungs.
Garfield spent a total of 64 days in the hospital, including 31 days on a ventilator. For COVID19 patients placed on ventilators, the mortality rate is at least 70%, according to a doctor at the hospital. But Garfield pulled through and was released in early May after a remarkable recovery.
“I’m here today just to stand tall,” he said. “I turned around with 100% capacity on everything from my kidneys, my liver, my cognitive.”
Garfield will bear some lifelong scars from the illness, having undergone the amputation of fingers on both hands.
“I’ve survived this. I’m doing fantastic. However, take heed on this. My hands,” he said, “are never going to be the same. I don’t have fingers anymore. This can happen to you.”
His surgeon, Dr. David Kulber of Cedars Sinai Medical Center, said the amputations are a result of how the virus impacts patients’ blood flow.
“COVID has effects on the endovascular bloodstream, so it actually affects the blood flow,” he said. “That’s why some young people have had strokes, and that’s why putting patients on blood thinners now has been a standard treatment for COVID patients.”
“They were extremely agitated, and many had neurological problems – mainly confusion and delirium,” a doctor said. “We are used to having some patients in the ICU who are agitated and require sedation, but this was completely abnormal. It has been very scary, especially because many of the people we treated were very young – many in their 30s and 40s, even an 18-year-old.”
In fact, there is a significant percentage of COVID19 patients whose only symptom is confusion” – they don’t have a cough or fatigue, says Robert Stevens, associate professor of anesthesiology at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“We are facing a secondary pandemic of neurological disease,” he said.
COVID19 survivors have to deal with many GI issues such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or other digestive disorders. This can result in extreme weight loss.
Young children may suffer from severe rashes and inflammation throughout the body. COVID19 can cause this affliction. This is known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. Yet, because there is so little data or research on children with COVID, there is a lot to be learned and discovered.
COVID can cause rashes over the body and also may cause “COVID toes”. COVID toes are red sores or lesions on the feet and hands in children and young adults. Consequently, dermatologists around the world have noticed an increasing number of patients presenting with an unusual rash that may be related to COVID19: red-purple, tender or itchy bumps that develop mostly on the toes, but also on the heels and fingers.
Some long-term effects of COVID19 symptoms may include myalgia. which is muscle pain, joint pain, muscle weakness, headaches, sweats, chills, body aches, and fatigue.
Patients recovering from COVID19 may face a second battle — coping with the disease’s mental health ramifications. Many victims of COVID face psychological issues from their infection and recovery. This not only impacts them but family and loved ones too. They may experience anxiety, sleep difficulties, depression, impaired memory, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, hallucinations, and a high incidence of persistent delirium.
Those recovering from a severe case of COVID19 might experience nightmares, startle response, PTSD, trouble sleeping, emotional instability, depression, appetite changes, and loss of interest.
Patients who recover from an ICU stay or from being on a ventilator have to learn how to walk, talk, and feed themselves all over again.
“I’ve had patients and families tell me they are scared to go home; that they feel ‘safer’ in the hospital,” a doctor said. Fear and anxiety over getting sick again may linger especially because there is little evidence regarding the risk of reinfection.
Large-scale disasters, whether traumatic (eg, the World Trade Center attacks or mass shootings), natural (eg, hurricanes, tornados, floods or fires), or environmental (eg, Deepwater Horizon oil spill), are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse.
In the context of the COVID19 pandemic, it appears likely that there will be substantial increases in anxiety, depression, substance use, and abuse, increased alcohol use, loneliness, domestic violence; and with schools closed, there is a very real possibility of an epidemic of child abuse. This may also lead to an increase in suicides or other self-harm.
With one in five people already suffering from mental issues, and two in five with potential issues, we may be facing a national mental health crisis in the not too distant future.
COVID19 can lead to hypogonadism, also known as “Low T”, a failure of the testes to produce the male sex hormone testosterone, sperm, or both.
This can cause a decrease in energy, sex drive or desire, depression, and infertility. Common symptoms of hypogonadism in men include abnormally large breasts and erectile dysfunction. This is especially devastating for younger men who plan on having kids someday.
Erectile dysfunction can also result from onset Type 2 diabetes which is a possible effect of COVID19. So previously healthy men can get diabetes from COVID19, then lose their best friend.
Many of these problems are long term and some are permanent. Nevertheless, these issues are IRREVERSIBLE. Even when therapeutics are developed, or a safe and effective vaccine is found, they can’t fix you. Once the damage is done to your body, short of getting a transplant, the only things doctors can do is treat the symptoms. Or show you how to live with your new disability. These changes are forever. You and your body will never be the same. You may never be able to work again or return to the life activities you’ve enjoyed pre-COVID.
So, next time you eat out at a restaurant, a family gathering, or go to a bar for food and beverages, your appetizer may only be a mild case of coronavirus, but the accouterments that come with your main course could be from the menu of long term, sometimes permanent, life-changing damages listed above. THINK ABOUT IT.