Post Covid Pneumonia COVID-19 Complication

Like other respiratory (breathing) diseases, COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, could cause long-lasting lung damage. As we continue to learn about COVID-19, we are understanding more regarding how it affects the lungs while people are ill and after healing.

Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., M.H.S., is a specialist on lung illness at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and sees patients with COVID-19. He explains some of the short and long-term lung issues brought on by the new coronavirus.

What type of damage could coronavirus cause in the lungs?

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, could cause lung problems for example pneumonia and, in the most serious cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Sepsis, another possible problem of COVID-19, could also cause long-lasting harm to the lungs and other organs.

COVID-19 Pneumonia

In covid pneumonia, the lungs become filled with liquid and swollen, leading to breathing problems. For some people, respiratory difficulties may become serious enough to need treatment at the hospital with oxygen or even a respirator.

Pneumonia that COVID-19 causes tend to develop in both lungs. Air sacs or pockets in the lungs fill with liquid, restricting their capacity to take in oxygen and causing shortness of breath, cough, and other signs and symptoms.

While most people heal from pneumonia without any long-lasting lung damage, pneumonia-related with COVID-19 might be serious. Even after the disease has passed, lung injury might result in breathing problems that may take months to improve.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

As COVID-19 pneumonia advances, more of the air sacs or pockets become filled with liquid leaking from the small blood vessels in the lungs. Ultimately, shortness of breath sets in and could lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a type of lung failure. Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are usually unable to breathe on their own and might need respirator support to help circulate oxygen in the body.

Whether it happens at home or at the hospital, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) could be fatal. People who survive acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and recover from COVID-19 might have long-lasting pulmonary scarring.


Another possible problem of a serious case of COVID-19 is sepsis. Sepsis happens when an infection reaches and spreads through, the blood vessels, causing tissue damage or injury everywhere it goes.

The lungs, the heart, and other body systems work together like instruments in an orchestra, Galiatsatos says. In the case of sepsis, the cooperation between the organs falls apart. Complete organ systems could start to shut down, one after another, including the lungs and heart.

Sepsis, even when survived, could leave a patient with long-lasting damage to the lungs and other organs.


Galiatsatos notes that when a person has COVID-19, the immune system is working hard to fight the attacker. This could leave the body more susceptible to infection with another bacterium or virus on top of the COVID-19 a superinfection. More infection could result in additional lung damage.

Three Factors in Coronavirus Lung Damage

Galiatsatos notes 3 factors that affect the lung damage risk in COVID-19 infections and how likely the person is to heal and return to lung function:

  • Disease severity - The first is the seriousness of the coronavirus infection itself whether the person has a mild case or a severe one, Galiatsatos says. Milder cases are less likely to cause long-lasting scars in the lung tissue.

  • Health conditions - Galiatsatos says, the second is whether there are existing health complications, for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease that could increase the risk for serious disease. Old people are also more susceptible to a serious case of COVID-19. Their lung tissues might be less elastic, and they might have weakened immunity due to old age.

  • Treatment - Treatment is the third factor, he says. A patient’s recovery and long-term lung health are going to depend upon what kind of care they get, and how quickly. Timely support in the hospital for seriously sick patients could minimize lung damage.

Can coronavirus patients lower the chance of lung damage?

There are things patients could do to raise their chances for less serious lung damage, Galiatsatos says.

If you have a health problem that puts you at higher risk, make sure you are doing everything you could to minimize that. For instance, people living with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or heart disease should be particularly careful to manage those conditions by monitoring and taking their medications as directed.

Galiatsatos adds that proper nutrition and hydration could also help patients avoid problems of COVID-19. Staying well-fed is crucial for overall health. Right hydration maintains proper blood volume and healthy mucous membranes in the respiratory system, which could help them better resist infection and tissue damage.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from post-covid pneumonia, our expert providers at Post Covid Centers will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call 469-545-9983 to book a telehealth appointment for a home check-up.

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