May 6, 2021

irreversible lung damage in corona recovered patients

irreversible lung damage in corona recovered patients
lung damage covid-19

irreversible lung damage in corona recovered patients

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Irreversible damage to the lungs found in recovered Covid sufferers in Innsbruck university clinic.


There is no doubt that Covid-19 should be taken seriously as a serious illness. How the late effects will have an impact will only become clear step by step. Recovered patients in diving are also at particular risk. The massive changes in the lungs can significantly increase the risk of accidents, said the senior physician of the Innsbruck University Clinic, Frank Hartig.

He heads the emergency department in the hospital and is the responsible crisis coordinator for Covid 19 patients. In the clinic, doctors have treated dozens of coronavirus sufferers in recent weeks, from symptom-free spreaders to intensive care patients on the heart-lung machine. Among them were six active divers, all of whom did not have to be treated in hospital, but cured themselves in home quarantines.

All of them were not severe cases, their illnesses were five to six weeks ago and they are considered to have recovered. But they can no longer dive. “The damage to the lungs is irreversible,” said Hartig in an interview with the APA. And this despite the fact that they were considered clinically healthy after several weeks of control and showed only individual symptoms such as a coughing cough or reduced performance.

Recovered presumably for life

“This is shocking, we don’t understand what’s going on here. They are probably lifelong patients, so it doesn’t matter whether they dive again or not,” said the doctor. The bad news was made clear by lung CTs. “They didn’t get any better at all in imaging,” said Hartig. “As an emergency doctor with 20 years of experience, you swallow when you see something like this in a 40-year-old patient.”

In the control after several weeks, two patients showed significant oxygen deficiency when under stress as a typical sign of persistent lung shunt. In two, the bronchi were still very excitable when under stress, as in asthmatics. Four out of the six divers still showed impressive lung changes on the control CT. “I even called on the X-ray to see if they had swapped the pictures because a healthy patient was sitting in front of us,” said Hartig. “When they saw their own pictures, it was shocking for them,” said the doctor. “You have to check regularly with such lung damage.”

To what extent long-term effects remain on the lungs is unclear according to the doctor and is currently speculative. “We don’t know how much of the changes will last,” said the doctor. When looking at the findings, however, it is difficult “to believe in complete healing”. He therefore published an interim report in the diving magazine “Wetnote” to warn active divers. “After a Covid infection, even if you have only mild symptoms, you should definitely have a dive doctor examine you thoroughly, even if you still have an upright medical examination,” said Hartig.

Healed corona patients should not exercise

Under no circumstances should former patients practice their sport in the summer without clarification. There is already a debate among doctors about artificial ventilation. More and more medical professionals are observing that the condition of Covid 19 patients deteriorates rapidly as soon as they are inserted into the trachea and connected to a counseling device. Hospitals in the USA have therefore been trying to delay ventilation for as long as possible. The first warnings came from Italy, where the majority of the ventilated patients died.

recovered patients lung damage
recovered patients lung damage

Such observations are also made in the Innsbruck clinic. Patients come to the outpatient clinic with low oxygen saturation, except for increased respiratory rate, they are fine according to the circumstances, although according to the textbook they should be intubated immediately in the case of such poor blood gases, Hartig reported. “If you give them two liters of oxygen, the oxygen saturation will get a little better, but a few hours later, many of them are in the intensive care unit with intubation and severe lung failure,” said the doctor. Many doctors feel that oxygen triggers cascades.

“It is worrying what we experience and what we do in the intensive care unit and it is clear how little we know,” said Hartig. “We are talking to people and feel like they are over the mountain and they are dying two hours later,” said the emergency doctor. In the case of seriously ill people, it is sometimes shown that oxygen can also be counterproductive.

Divers have a higher level of oxygen when diving, for example if they practice sport with Nitrox, a mixture of nitrogen with oxygen. This could be dangerous if “the lung tissue is still sensitive,” warned Hartig. “For this summer we are dependent on expert opinions,” he emphasized that studies will only be available next year.

The Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit (KFV) warned that performance losses due to late effects could also occur in other sports. Exact sport fitness examinations are essential. “Special information for athletes, clubs, but also for doctors will be particularly necessary in the future,” said KFV spokeswoman and sports prevention expert Johanna Trauner-Karner.

Cource: EN24 News

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