During a COVID infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus damages your lungs, a problem that causes ongoing lung problems long after your infection heals. If you still have coughing, shortness of breath or other symptoms, pulmonary specialist Joy Burbeck, MD, and the team at Midsouth Independent Group (MIG) in Memphis, Tennessee, can help your lungs heal with post-COVID respiratory care. Don’t wait to seek help because post-COVID lung problems can last a year or longer without treatment. Call MIG or request an appointment online today.
Though the virus that causes COVID (SARS-CoV-2) has the ability to affect many body systems, it’s primarily a respiratory virus that infects your lungs. COVID causes respiratory problems during an acute infection and in people who develop long COVID:
During an acute infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters your lungs and causes inflammation. As a result, you may develop bronchitis, pneumonia, and/or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
These conditions also damage tissues in your lungs (fibrosis) and fill your airways with fluids that make it difficult to breathe.
It takes 2-6 weeks for an active COVID-19 infection to clear, depending on the severity of your illness. But after the infection clears, at least 15% of people continue having symptoms, a condition called long COVID.
Long COVID can affect anyone, whether their infection was mild or severe enough to be hospitalized. Of those with this ongoing condition, 27% have symptoms severe enough to significantly affect their daily functioning.
Lung damage that occurs during an active COVID infection usually heals, but it takes 3-12 months after the active infection ends to regain normal lung function. Additionally, some patients may have long-lasting lung fibrosis (thickened and scarred tissue).
Lung problems during long COVID cause symptoms such as:
These problems improve with post-COVID respiratory care.
Proof that you had COVID together with ongoing respiratory symptoms are generally enough to point to long COVID. But your MIG provider runs comprehensive diagnostic tests to rule out any other conditions that may cause your symptoms.
They also perform lung function tests to assess the severity of your lung damage and measure your overall lung function.
Your MIG provider always tailors your care to meet your specific lung needs. However, post-COVID respiratory care typically includes:
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a comprehensive program that includes education (learning to use an inhaler is just one example), oxygen therapy, strength training, and breathing exercises.
Breathing exercises strengthen your lungs, expand their air capacity, eliminate excess fluids and mucus, and generally improve breathing.
If you need help with lung problems caused by a COVID infection, call Midsouth Independent Group or book an appointment online today.