COVID-19: causes, symptoms and treatment
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus has become a global pandemic and acute and long-term lung effects are now recognised. This includes a spectrum of lung damage but also pulmonary vascular problems related to the SARS-CoV-2 acute illness.
The combination of the viral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are the more severe manifestations of the acute COVID-19 illness and may potentially lead to pulmonary fibrosis.
Another major potential presentation is the recognition that COVID-19 is associated with clots forming in both the circulation including the vessels supplying the lung. This can occur in those critically ill but also those with less severe COVID-19 infections.
Lung function tests, exercise tests and specialist lung scans are required to fully identify these problems.
Treatments that may be used include anti-viral and anti-inflammation agents in addition to blood-thinning agents that treat clots or prevent new events.
Patients with persistent fatigue and breathlessness following this disease (‘long COVID’) may benefit from graduated exercises, lung rehabilitation and the input of respiratory physiotherapists.