“Coronavirus! It is perhaps the biggest nightmares these days”. With the quick spreading of COVID-19 pandemic across the United States, there are cancellation of major events, closing of schools and colleges, and disruption of travel and also normal life. It is true that not just Americans but also people from all over the world are taking all the necessary precautions against the new coronavirus that has not only been sickening people but also killing thousands of individuals worldwide.
What Does Coronavirus Do To Your Body?
The WHO or the World Health Organization and the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised the general public to be watchful for dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath, which are the usual symptoms that follow contraction of the SARS-CoV-2 or the new coronavirus.(1)
It takes approximately 5-12 days from infection to the appearance of symptoms of coronavirus in the infected individual.
As per the CDC, the coronavirus can spread from one person to other within 6 feet via respiratory droplets that are produced when the virus infected individual sneezes or coughs.(2)
It is even possible for the coronavirus to be on an object or a surface and get transferred by touch to the surface or object and enter the body via nose, eyes, or mouth. Coronavirus is a respiratory virus and so it basically enters through the respiratory tract, primarily via the nose. However, it might also enter through mouth and eyes. The virus when enters the body, it starts attacking and body starts showing various symptoms.
For most people, the disease caused due to coronavirus is mild; however, for some it becomes so severe that they even die.
Here is what we need to know.
What Happens During the Incubation Period of Coronavirus?
The virus works by getting inside our body cells and then by hijacking them. The coronavirus, officially known as Sars-CoV-2, invades your body while you breathe it in (once someone who in infected coughs or sneezes nearby) or when you touch a contaminated object or surface and then touch your face.
Coronavirus at first infects the cells that lines your throat, airways, and your lungs and then turns them in to “Coronavirus factories” that spew out a large numbers of new viruses that keeps on infecting more and more cells of your body.
This is the early stage of coronavirus, and during this stage you will not become sick and it is also possible that some people might never develop symptoms.
This incubation period, or the time between the virus infection and first symptoms appearing, generally varies widely; however, on an average it is 5 days.
Symptoms That Show In Case Of Mild Disease of Coronavirus
This Mild disease stage is what most people will experience. Covid-19 is actually a mild infection for 8 out of 10 people who get this disease and fever along with cough, are the core symptoms of mild disease of coronavirus.
It is also possible that people with mild disease of coronavirus infection might have body aches, headache, and a sore throat; however, these are not guaranteed.
Feeling feverish is because of the fact that your body’s immune system responds to the coronavirus infection. The immune system has recognized the virus as a hostile invader and it signals to the rest of your body that something is wrong. This is done by releasing chemicals known as Cytokines. These rally your immune system; but they also result in body pains, body aches and fever.
We will also mention that the cough that happens due to coronavirus infection is initially a dry one and this is probably down to irritation of the cells as they get infected by the virus.
However, certain individuals will eventually begin coughing up sputum or the thick mucus that contains dead lung cells killed by the coronavirus.
You can treat these symptoms in your body by drinking plenty of fluids, bed rest and paracetamol and you won’t require specialist hospital care.
This mild disease stage of coronavirus usually lasts about a week, and by this time most people recover because of their immune system fighting against the virus. However, some people will develop a more serious form of the Covid-19.
There are some emerging studies that suggest that the mild disease can cause more cold-like symptoms, like runny nose.(3)
The tiny little air sacs in your lungs is the part where oxygen moves in to the blood and where the carbon dioxide move out. However, in case of pneumonia the tiny sacs begin to fill with water and can ultimately cause shortening of breath and also difficulty in breathing.
Some patients will require a ventilator to breathe.
Based on the data from China, this stage of Covid-19 is thought to affect around 14% of the individuals.(4)
Critical Disease and Symptoms That Show During the Advanced Phase of Coronavirus
It has been estimated that around 6% of the coronavirus cases get critically ill. By this time, the virus infects the body so much that your body starts failing and there is actually a real chance of death.
Now, where lies the problem here? Well, the problem is that your body’s immune system is now absolutely out of control and is causing damage throughout the body. It can cause septic shock when there is a drop in your blood pressure to a dangerously low level and your organs stop working or gets failed completely.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome that is caused by widespread inflammation in your lungs stops your body from getting enough of oxygen that it requires to survive. It can also stop the kidneys from cleaning the blood and also damage the intestinal lining. At this point the virus sets up such a great degree of inflammation that there begins multi-organ failure.
Here, when your immune system cannot fight against the virus, it will eventually spread to your entire body and will cause even more damage.
Though there might be treatment for this stage, it will however be highly invasive and it can include extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO. This is an artificial lung that actually takes out the blood from your body through thick tubes, oxygenates it well and pumps it back in.
But again, the damage can reach fatal levels and organs can no longer keep your body alive.
Death Due To Coronavirus Infection
We already are aware of few of the deaths due to coronavirus infection. It is described that irrespective of the best efforts from doctors, some patients died from coronavirus. And, this is perhaps the worst thing that coronavirus can do to your body.
Detailed in the Lancet Medical Journal, the first 2 patients died at Jinyintal Hospital in Wuhan, China; seemed healthy, although they both were long-term smokers and that would actually have weakened their lungs.(5)
The first patient was a 61 year old man who had severe pneumonia when he arrived at the hospital and was in acute respiratory distress, and was put on a ventilator. Still, his lungs failed and the heart stopped beating and he died 11 days after being admitted to the hospital.
The 2nd patient was a 69 year old man, who also had acute respiratory distress syndrome and was attached to an ECMO machine. However, it was not enough to save his life. He died of severe pneumonia and also septic shock when the patient’s blood pressure collapsed.
Since then, many more news of death of coronavirus patients has been reported. So, from this it is clear that coronavirus at worst case can also cause death of the infected patient.
It’s very true that coronavirus and the way it is quickly spreading all over the world is a big concern for all of us. What we can do is maintain healthy precautions, such as keeping distance from people showing cough and cold symptoms, properly washing our hands with soap or hand-wash, disinfecting the surfaces and objects, and most importantly staying at home and not going outside. It is also advised to consult with doctor if you experience symptoms of cough, cold or fever and get yourself properly diagnosed.
- COVID-19, 2019-nCoV or Coronavirus Infection in Human: Symptoms, Treatment, Spread, Incubation Period, Prevention
- How Do You Test For Coronavirus?
- Should You Be Worried About Coronavirus (COVID-19, 2019-nCoV)?
- Can Face Mask Protect Against Coronavirus?
- How Common is Coronavirus (Covid-19)?
- Is Coronavirus Curable?
- How to Prevent Getting Coronavirus?