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New study shows severe lung damage in long-term Covid patients


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People with long-term Covid, also called long Covid, are believed to have sustained damage in their lungs that are not detected by regular scans. This is apparent from a small pilot study by Oxford University in the United Kingdom, among others. That damage is a possible explanation why many people still have a series of complaints for a long time after a mild corona infection. This while doctors are in the dark as to why.

Using a new method using xenon gas scans, various lung abnormalities were found in eleven test subjects. On regular lung scans – CT scans and X-rays – these abnormalities were not visible, or to a much lesser extent. All test subjects did not have to go to hospital for their corona infection, but all had breathing problems.

During the study, the participants inhaled the xenon gas while undergoing an MRI scan. That gas behaves like oxygen in the lungs, but lights up during the scan so the researchers can see how it passes from the lungs to the bloodstream, essential for transporting oxygen around the body. The scans were compared with those of people who had been hospitalized because of serious corona complaints and who had undergone a more extensive lung examination. This showed that similar abnormalities in the lungs were observed in both groups.

According to the researchers, it is extremely frustrating for many people to still have breathing problems for a long time after being infected, when no one seems to be able to tell why. They therefore hope that this research will bring the explanation for lung Covid, and with it the recovery process, closer. “Once we understand the mechanisms that trigger these symptoms, we will be better able to develop effective treatments,” the researchers said.

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Previous studies had already shown that lung Covid patients benefit from long-term physiotherapy, in which a lot of attention is paid to breathing techniques. The new research has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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