8 reasons you REALLY don’t want to catch COVID-19

Healthcare workers doing drive thru testing

Flickr/ The National Guard

The novel coronavirus has infected over 9 million people around the world. Of this total, nearly half a million people have died from COVID-19. An estimated 4.9 million people have recovered.

Many people who get the respiratory illness suffer only a few symptoms, some none at all. But others who recover from COVID-19 may suffer from life-long physical and mental consequences.

So it is not, as President Trump likes to say, “the flu.”

Sherie Antoinette is an ICU nurse who has treated patients with the most severe symptoms of the novel coronavirus. She tweeted: “COVID-19 is the worst disease process I’ve ever worked with in my 8 years as an ICU nurse.

In fact, it was her tweet — and an SFGATE.com article inspired by it — that led us to write this post on 8 reasons you REALLY don’t want to catch COVID-19.

SFGATE shared her tweet and some responses:

“When they say ’recovered,’ they don’t tell you that that means you may need a lung transplant. Or that you may come back after discharge with a massive heart attack or stroke because COVID makes your blood thick as hell. Or that you may have to be on oxygen for the rest of your life.”

Antoinette’s tweet opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of responses. Many came from former patients who had endured COVID-19.Others came from their family members or fellow ICU nurses with the first-hand experience of treating patients with the virus. The responses have been shared throughout our post.

Here, then, are 8 of the worst dangers facing those who have “recovered” from COVID-19?

1. Neurological damage

A model head with brain functions drawn on it

Canva

New research has shown that the novel coronavirus affects the brain. Patients of COVID-19 have reported neurological symptoms, including hallucinations, “brain fog,” short-term memory loss, and even a vibrating sensation when they touch surfaces.

This study showed that over a third of 214 hospital patients with COVID-19 in China developed neurological complications. Another paper stated that over a third of patients in critical COVID-19 wards have shown signs of delirium during their illness. The links between neurology and SARS-CoV-2 is a whole new area of research that continues to expand.

Patients of COVID-19 also suffer from psychological damage. Many people report feelings of anxiety, stress, and a sense of guilt from the stigma of having unknowingly carried the disease.

2. Kidney Failure

"Just the Flu?" - COVID-19 could cause organ failure and deadly strokes 2

Pixabay

New research is coming out showing that around 30 percent of COVID-19 patients in China and New York were left with kidney damage. This has left many people on dialysis machines because their kidneys can no longer work unassisted, and in some cases, this could be permanent.

I went into acute kidney failure and needed dialysis. I now have asthma, chronic cough and an irregular heartbeat. I have conditions I never had before, plus I’m wiped all the time. I hope this gets better, but you [Sherie] are on the money. And, mine was considered a low-moderate case.

— Stephanie McCarroll

3. Blood Clotting

"Just the Flu?" - COVID-19 could cause organ failure and deadly strokes

Pixabay

Many hospitalized COVID-19 patients develop swollen legs and blotchy purple rashes due to blood clots. Exactly why COVID-19 causes the formation of these coagulated lumps of proteins and cells is unknown.

One theory is that when the novel coronavirus infects the body, the immune system responds to the attack with an inflammation of the tissues. This leads to the development of blood clots. For the most unfortunate, these can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and other long-term complications.

A paper by Thomas Jefferson University showed a rising prevalence of strokes among younger people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Strokes are typically associated with older individuals. In addition, where strokes normally have a fatality rate of 10 percent, these new cases are showing fatality rates of 42.8 percent.

Blood clots can have secondary effects around the body. The blood clots that form in a vein can cause deep vein thrombosis, and in the worst cases, this can lead to amputation of the limb or death.

A study in France showed that up to 30 percent of people with severe cases of COVID-19 were also getting pulmonary embolisms. When blood clots prevent the lungs from getting sufficient blood, this can cause a pulmonary embolism — these can be fatal. This article explores the potential links between COVID-19 and blood clotting.

My coworker — an otherwise totally healthy 30-year-old — is still having issues breathing, two full months later. We’ve got patients coming back to the ER after they’re “recovered” because they can’t breathe or they get a blood clot. It’s so insane.

— Andi

4. Heart Inflammation

"Just the Flu?" - COVID-19 could cause organ failure and deadly strokes 1

PickPik

Most people understand COVID-19 as a respiratory illness that primarily affects the lungs. However, new research is showing that COVID-19 can cause cardiovascular issues — many of which remain after the patient has “recovered.”

 

Early evidence is suggesting that 1 in 5 people suffer heart damage from severe cases of COVID-19, even those without existing conditions. The virus causes inflammation of the heart muscle. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body which could lead to a heart attack.

COVID-19 can also result in acute myocarditis and even heart failure. Some patients have developed heart conditions after being discharged from the hospital. Dr. Janet Shapiro from New York City recovered from COVID-19 and then discovered she had cardiomyopathy, meaning her heart now has trouble circulating blood around the body.

I’m currently in the hospital after having a heart attack caused by clotting that resulted from COVID 19. I have a stent in my heart and need to wear a heart monitoring vest at all times. Now I face months of recovery including physical and occupational therapy. I’m only 29.

—Dan

I had a “mild” case in February. I wasn’t hospitalized. Still extremely ill with a myriad of symptoms, including inflammation and lots of pain for 3 weeks. I have no doubt this virus causes permanent damage. Talk with someone who’s had it before you decide to go without a mask.

— Leicia Faye

5. Scarred Lungs

"Just the Flu?" - COVID-19 could cause organ failure and deadly strokes 3

PickPik

The immune response generated to attack the invading virus is exceptionally aggressive. COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, and in some cases it develops into ARDS: acute respiratory syndrome.

This has left “survivors” of acute cases of COVID-19 with permanent scarring on their lungs. CT scans show patches on patients’ lungs, called “ground-glass opacities,” which may never go away. Permanent scarring could result in reduced lung capacity and other respiratory side-effects.

I’m just getting over a “mild” case after over two months. There’s scarring in my lower right lung and my stomach and digestion are a mess like never before. But I’m coughing way less and can take walks again.

And, btw, this is the third time in two months that I’ve “gotten better.” I’m just hoping it’s the last and it doesn’t all come back AGAIN.

— Eli

My husband and I caught COVID two and a half months ago. While my symptoms were mild, he nearly had to be admitted because he couldn’t breathe, and now, a month after he’s recovered, we’ve discovered he has PERMANENT LUNG DAMAGE.

This is not “just the flu.”  It isn’t.

— Sue Mii

6. Kawasaki Disease

"Just the Flu?" - COVID-19 could cause organ failure and deadly strokes 4

Wikimedia

This is a rare autoimmune disease that affects children, where their blood vessels leak and fluid builds up in the organs. Cases of Kawasaki disease are present in children who have tested positive for COVID-19. This paper explores the growing research on links between COVID-19 and Kawasaki in children.

7. Infertility in Men

"Just the Flu?" - COVID-19 could cause organ failure and deadly strokes 5

Wikimedia

The novel coronavirus is thought to attack the body through ACE2 receptors. Men contain a high number of these receptors in their testicles. Researchers are looking into the likelihood that male patients could suffer testicular damage and subsequent infertility after recovering from COVID-19.

One study showed that in 81 male patients, their hormone ratios were off, and the paper suggested that after recovery, younger men should consider their fertility. The connection between the respiratory illness and future fertility in younger men is an area of ongoing research.

8. Chronic Exhaustion

A photograph of a person lying in bed.

Canva

People who have recovered from COVID-19 are reporting chronic fatigue that could last for months or more. Postviral fatigue is a recognized syndrome and a predicted part of recovering from any major illness.

COVID-19 appears to leave people with unprecedented levels of exhaustion. Sufferers of this post-COVID chronic fatigue include young and fit people, with no history of smoking or secondary illnesses.

I got COVID in March, and in May, developed symptoms of encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome that leave me bedridden for days at a time. I’m so glad someone mentioned this so I know that I’m not the only one experiencing this.

— @PinkkYaYa

I’m a nurse on a COVID floor, I caught it. I am a relatively healthy 24-year-old and could barely walk up a half flight of stairs. My blood pressure skyrocketed, chest pain was debilitating. I’m 8 weeks out and still feeling the chest pain and shortness of breath. This is no joke.

— Alicia

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