PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–While most patients will recover from COVID-19 without lingering side effects, others might find themselves developing issues in their lungs and other organs. The CDC says that lung function abnormalities are possible.
Panama City doctor, Marwan Obid, says he’s seen a rise in patients presenting lung issues after contracting the virus.
“With all the flu seasons we have, we might have one or two or three for all the flu season, now we’re seeing them on a routine basis,” said Dr. Obid.
As people recover from the virus, the doctor says side effects vary depending on severity.
“The people with the severe cases who stay on the ventilator in the hospital, they last longer, around 6 months to recover,” Dr. Obid said.
But still, some develop respiratory problems if the virus reaches their lungs.
“The virus goes inside the lung and stays inside the alveolar area and the body tries to react to wash it out. They secrete a lot of secretion from what we call the inflammatory process,” Dr. Obid said.
Dr. Obid says this makes it difficult for oxygen to go in.
“If those liquids stay for a longer time, that will precipitate down the road with what we call pulmonary fibrosis or scar tissue,” Dr. Obid said.
Pulmonary fibrosis causes the lungs to become damaged and thick, and recovery can take a while.
“We monitor them by cat scan to see the scar tissue in the lung, we’re monitoring every 6 weeks to see how they improve,” Dr. Obid said.
As for patients who develop COVID pneumonia, Dr. Obid says they’re typically given antibiotics among other things.
“They would get vitamin D, some zinc, they would get a steroid and nebulizer machine and an inhaler with a steroid,” Dr. Obid said.
For those with active COVID infections, the doctor recommends monitoring lung function periodically.
“Usually now a lot of patients buy what we call a finger oximeter that measures your oxygen with the fingers and as long as your oxygens above 90% you will do fine,” Dr. Obid said.
Experts at John Hopkins Medicine say recovery from COVID induced lung damage can take anywhere from 3 months to a year or more.