There are growing signs that COVID-19 may have lingering effects, called sequelae in medical terminology. Early studies have found decreased lung function that might not be reversible, and damage to the heart, kidneys, gut or liver.
Experts say it is not unusual for diseases to have lasting impacts on those who contract them. Studies in the wake of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa found a significant number of survivors suffered from eye trouble or severe arthritis. Other diseases that cause pneumonia can cause permanent damage to the respiratory system. Another coronavirus, SARS, caused victims sustained lung damage even after they recovered.
“Most of the sequelae that we’re seeing are the same types of sequelae that we see with any cause of pneumonia,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We have a lot of information on other coronaviruses and the disease spectrum they cause.”
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