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Although COVID-19 primarily affects the lungs, some sequelae, such as heart problems, diabetes, or kidney disease, can develop a few months after recovery from coronavirus infection, even in mild cases of the disease.

Although the exact cause of these sequelae has not been fully understood, some recent research suggests that they may be the result of intense inflammation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus or even due to some other pre-existing disease that causes manifest after coronavirus infection.

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a new type of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and is characterized by the appearance of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and general malaise, in addition to an intense cough and difficulty breathing. In some cases, hospital admission is necessary due to the seriousness of the symptoms that can be life-threatening. Check out all symptoms of COVID-19.

Main sequelae

Some symptoms such as excessive tiredness, weakness, muscle pain, cough or loss of smell/taste are the most common sequelae after infection, which can last for more than 12 weeks, even after the person is considered cured.

However, there are sequelae that involve other organs of the body that have been reported, although less frequently, by people who have had COVID-19, some studies and scientific journals. These include:

Cardiovascular system: myocardial inflammation, heart failure, inflammation of the membrane that lines the heart, acute coronary disease, cardiac arrhythmia, infarction or increased blood clotting

Respiratory system: stiffening of the lung, called pulmonary fibrosis, which can cause difficulty breathing or poor blood circulation

Renal system: acute renal failure, characterized by decreased kidney function

Neurological systems: loss of taste and smell, headache, anxiety, depression, insomnia, brain inflammation, stroke, cerebral venous thrombosis, cerebral hemorrhage, confusion, delirium, dizziness, seizures, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Parkinson’s disease or Miller Fisher syndrome

Dermatological system: blistering, itching or swelling of the skin, or alopecia, which is hair loss

Gastrointestinal system: loss of appetite, nausea, gastroesophageal reflux, diarrhea, abdominal pain or swelling, or bloody stools

Ophthalmologic system: conjunctivitis, keratoconjunctivitis or hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, eyelid redness, retinal blood vessel obstruction or optic nerve inflammation

Endocrine system: thyroid inflammation, hyperglycemia in diabetic people, increased insulin resistance or development of type 1 diabetes

Importantly, most people with COVID-19 recover quickly. However, due to the possibility of the development of sequelae of the infection, it becomes even more important to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, following precautionary measures such as social distancing, using masks, washing hands and using alcohol gel, for example. Check out all the measures to prevent infection by COVID-19.

Furthermore, the vaccine is the best form of protection against COVID-19 and against reinfection with a potentially more dangerous new variant of the virus. Find out what are the main vaccines for COVID-19.

Why does COVID-19 leave sequelae?

The exact cause of the sequelae of COVID-19 is not yet known, however, studies carried out so far report that during the infection, the body produces a large amount of inflammatory substances, called cytokines, as a way to increase the action of the immune system to fight the virus. These cytokines can end up accumulating in other organs and systems, causing chronic inflammation and causing sequelae.

What to do in case of sequel

In case there is any sign or symptom that could be indicative of sequelae of COVID-19, it is important to consult the doctor, so that the diagnosis can be made and the relationship with COVID-19 established and, thus, to start the medical follow-up and the treatment according to specific symptoms and individually.

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