People fear what they don’t know which is why it’s best to understand all that you can about Corona Virus. This will keep you from getting caught up in all the myths and false news that’s constantly spreading about the virus. First identified in Wuhan, China, the virus appears to affect the body in a systematic process that seems to be connected. Here’s how the virus affects the body;
Since Corona Virus is a respiratory disease, the infection starts and ends in the lungs. The viruses spread when an infected person spreads the droplets containing the virus to individuals in close proximity (6 feet range) by either coughing or sneezing. Symptoms of the Corona Virus are similar to those of the flu. An infected person will start having a fever and a cough which later transitions to pneumonia or worse.
It is reported that there are three phases through which the disease attacks the lungs. They include replication of the virus, Hyper-reactivity of the immune system and pulmonary destruction. However, early data shows that Close to 18 per cent of the cases reported respiratory failure, while the others reported milder symptoms.
1.Replication of the virus
During the early days of infection, coronavirus quickly attacks the lung cells. These two cells can be classified as cilia (the ones that have batons resembling hair) and the ones responsible for mucus production. The mucus is responsible for keeping your breathing organs moist and offering protection to the lung tissues against pathogens. On the other hand, the cilia help to clear out debris like viruses and pollen by beating around the mucus. Most of the patients infected with the virus have been reported to have developed pneumonia which exhibits symptoms such as shortness of breath. This can be attributed to the fact that coronavirus infects and kills cilia cells leading to them sloughing off and blocking the patient’s airways.
2.Hyperreactivity of the immune system.
Viral invasion causes the body to step up and attempt to get rid of the disease by filling the lungs with white blood cells intended to kill the virus and restore the lung tissue. When a person is healthy, this process only takes place in the infected areas. However, sometimes this inflammatory process doesn’t go as normal and the immune cells destroy everything in their path not exempting healthy tissue. This means that the immunity now works against the body instead of working for the body. The end result of this is further clogging of the lungs and worsening of pneumonia.
In this phase, the lung damage continues to worsen resulting in respiratory failure. At this stage, if the patients don’t succumb to the disease, they can still live with the damaged lung. WHO reports that the lesions caused by coronavirus look very similar to those of a honeycomb. The lesions are likely caused by the hyperactive response of the body’s immune system resulting in scars that stiffen and protect the lungs. Patients with such damaged lungs have to rely on ventilators to help them breathe. As the destruction of the lungs goes on, the membranes between the blood vessels and the air sacs become more permeable causing a high likelihood of the lungs getting filled with fluid and lowering their efficiency to oxygenate the blood.
4.Presence of the virus in faeces
Close to a quarter of patients suffering from zoonotic coronaviruses experience diarrhoea. Typically, when viruses get into the body, they attack the protein walled cells known as receptors hence causing diarrhoea. Two studies have detected the presence of coronavirus in faeces. However, there’s Still no substantial evidence that can prove that the virus can, in fact, be spread through faeces.
There have been signs of full-body invasion by the virus among infected patients. This is characterized by an increase in liver enzymes, low blood pressure and lower platelet and white blood cells. This has led to cardiac arrest and acute kidney injury in a very low number of patients. However, this isn’t regarded as proof that the virus is actually spreading throughout the body but instead is identified as a possible cause of a cytokine storm. Cytokines are alarm beacons of the immune system whose function is to direct immune cells to the area of infection. This means that they help immune cells to destroy the infected tissues so as to save the body.
6.Hyperreaction of the cytokines
During a coronavirus infection, the immune system goes into overdrive and starts dumping unregulated amounts of cytokines into the lungs. This results in the cytokines killing every cell in the site including the healthy tissues. This scenario spreads to other organs outside the lungs
7.Weakened blood vessels
Cytokines cause the blood vessels to become weak hence resulting in fluids leaking to the air sacs. This storm leaks to your circulatory system causing systemic issues in multiple organs. This causes the patient’s situation to become way worse.
8.Multiple organ failure
In severe cases, coronavirus has been reported to impede the body’s ability to pump blood throughout the body because of the cytokine response. This results in multiple organ failure. There’s no clear answer as to why some patients have complications outside of the lungs. However, some scientists have speculated that this could be due to underlying conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Doctors have reported that the virus causes liver injury. Although most cases of liver injury are quite mild, severe cases have indicated severe damage to the liver and liver failure. Once the bloodstream gets infected, the virus can swim to any body part. When functioning properly, the liver cells are continuously dying and secreting enzymes into the blood. Later on, it is usually able to regenerate itself and carry on with its functions. Patients suffering from Corona Virus are reported to have an abnormal quantity of enzymes in the blood indicating that their liver is either mildly injured and can quickly regenerate itself or severely injured and could possibly fail. Scientists are still not sure whether the virus infects the liver itself, replicates and destroys the cells on its own. Or if the cells are damaged by the body’s attempt to control the spread of the virus which causes the liver to swell. It’s worth noting that Liver failure caused by coronavirus isn’t recorded as being the only cause of death of the patients. Majority of the cases where patients’ death has been caused by the virus, is because they also have other underlying conditions affecting their kidney, lung or liver.
Renal failure is considered an uncommon symptom of the Corona Virus. However, the few patients with renal failure are reported to have died because of it. Because the kidneys also help to filter your blood, the virus can find its way to it by targeting the kidney tubules. When the virus gets to the tubules, it can cause mild injury. However, if the virus finds a way to penetrate the cells, it could begin replicating and have potentially lethal effects. Doctors suggest that the renal injury caused by the virus could be caused by underlying conditions such as low blood pressure whereas the more severe cases could be a result of a cytokine storm. Acute kidney failure could be caused by a number of factors such as multiple organ failure, antibiotics and long use of a ventilator. This means that kidney failure isn’t solely caused by a coronavirus.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CORONAVIRUS?
1. Distance yourself from other people; You should keep a 3 feet distance from anyone who’s sneezing or coughing. If you’re too close to an infected person who’s coughing or sneezing, the virus can find its way to your respiratory tract.
2. Practice regular hand washing; You should wash your hands regularly using a hand sanitizer or with soap and water so as to kill the virus that could be on your hands.
3. Refrain from touching your nose, eyes, and mouth; You touch so many surfaces using your hands and hence you could possibly come in contact with the virus. Once the virus is on your hands, it could enter the body if you happen to touch your nose, mouth or eyes.
4. Have respiratory hygiene; Everyone around you should practice positive respiratory hygiene by covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when they sneeze or cough. The tissue should then be disposed of immediately.
5.Seek medical assistance if you experience a cough, fever and difficulty breathing
You should contact your local health authority in advance if you have any of these symptoms. Your health care provider will help you quickly access a suitable health facility hence protecting you and those around you from getting affected as well.
6. Keep up with the latest developments regarding coronavirus
Your local, as well as national healthcare provider, will help advise you and inform you of the latest developments of the coronavirus as well as how to keep yourself and others from contracting the virus.
Hopefully, you’re now aware of what exactly happens in the body when a person is infected with the virus as well as its preventive measures. Remember to stay vigil as we wait for the virus to be dealt with.