(WellnessPursuits.com) – Most of us who contract COVID-19 will be asymptomatic or experience a mild form of the illness. But a small percentage of us will become very sick from the virus, increasing our risk of long-term health issues that may never truly resolve and alter our lives forever. Here are seven COVID complications you should be aware of.
1. Heart Damage
Scientists who study COVID-19 have identified several entry points for the virus. One of these is the ACE2 receptors, and one of the areas we have these receptors is the heart. This can lead the virus to attack our hearts more strongly than it might attack our other organs or tissues. Permanent heart damage has been seen in COVID-19 patients, and there is concern that this is going to be one of the most significant issues for people who have had a more serious form of the disease — and even for some of those whose outward symptoms seemed mild.
2. Blood Clotting Issues
Many people who have been very ill with COVID-19 have struggled with blood clotting issues. When the blood becomes thicker from fighting the illness, it can lead us to form clots we might not develop otherwise. Not everyone who gets the disease experiences this, but it’s been enough people that scientists and medical professionals have taken notice of the problem so they can work on treatments that will reduce the risk of harm.
3. Neurological and Mental Health Problems
If you experience a severe case of COVID-19, there is a 31% chance you will develop neurological and mental health problems. These can include encephalitis, psychosis, affective disorder, impaired memory, personality changes, and other issues that can affect your daily function. People who have been on a ventilator are particularly at risk, but some people with more mild symptoms are also showing neurological issues, too.
If you experience these side effects, you might not seem like yourself for a long time after you recover from the more obvious symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath. This can make it difficult for you to return to work, school or everyday life.
4. Loss of Taste and/or Smell
One of the first signs of COVID-19 you may notice is the loss of smell and taste. It’s not reported by everyone who comes down with the disease, but it’s definitely a notable symptom. The problem is that, for some of us who contract the illness, this symptom could be long-term or permanent.
This complication may not seem like a big deal, but not being able to smell or taste things can really hinder our quality of life. Not only does it make food less enjoyable, it can even put our health at risk. For example, we might not be able to smell chemicals in the air or taste food that may be spoiled.
5. Lung Scarring
Since COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, it’s not surprising that one of the biggest long-term complications is lung scarring. Severe forms of the disease can do a lot of damage to our lung tissue, and there are scars left behind when that tissue heals up. That can mean we may experience trouble breathing, the need for supplemental oxygen, reduced exercise capacity, and a host of other issues in the long-term. Our lungs may never be the same, even when the virus is no longer present in the body.
6. Male Infertility
If you’re a man, one of the complications you may face from COVID-19 is long-term fertility problems. Remember those ACE2 receptors that act as an entrypoint for the virus, which we mentioned above? A lot of those receptors are located in the testicles, and damage to those receptors and the surrounding tissue can lead to lowered sperms counts and difficulty conceiving. This is one area of research that hasn’t been widely explored yet, but researchers are seeing the potential for this to be a long-term complication for men who have had the virus.
7. Strokes and Embolisms
Even in younger people, the risk of strokes and embolisms is on the rise for those who have tested positive for the virus. That could be because of the blood clotting issues, which come about due to the inflammation the body produces during this illness. While a younger person who experiences a stroke or embolism can usually recover better and faster than an older person with the same issue, there’s often still lasting and long-term damage. Some of that damage could be permanent, depending on the severity of the stroke or embolism and the overall health of the person who experienced it.
If you or a loved one has COVID-19 symptoms, seeing a doctor early is important. That can help reduce complications and provide an opportunity for testing to see if the disease is actually present. In the meantime, maintaining a healthy lifestyle that involves eating right, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep, as well as proper hydration and exercise, can go a long way toward ensuring that you stay as healthy as possible. The behaviors may help to reduce COVID-19 symptoms and your risk of getting the virus, so they’re worth doing — and they’re good for you in other ways, as well.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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