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Affinity Health Explores The Effects Of COVID-19 On The Lungs

Affinity Health, leading providers of affordable medical cover in South Africa, explore the effects of the coronavirus on the lungs.


We all know that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, but what does COVID-19 actually do to your lungs? SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – is a respiratory disorder that primarily affects the upper respiratory system, including the lungs.


While most people infected with COVID-19 will experience minor to mild respiratory issues, older persons may experience more severe symptoms that require hospitalisation. The effects of COVID-19 are more severe, however, for those with additional health issues such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

COVID-19 VS Your Lungs

The respiratory tract is often likened to an “upside-down tree”. The trachea, or windpipe, is located in the “trunk”. It splits into smaller and smaller “branches” in your lungs. At the end of each branch are the leaves – tiny air sacs called alveoli. This is where oxygen enters your bloodstream and carbon dioxide exits.


When the novel coronavirus enters your body, it infects your mucous membranes, which line your nose, mouth, and eyes. In some instances, it can also infect the lower respiratory tract, harming the walls and linings of the air sacs in your lung. Mucus, fluid, and other cells fight the virus by filling the air sacs. This may make it more challenging for your body to absorb oxygen and breathing becomes difficult.


The good news is that about 80% of people who have COVID-19 only get mild to moderate symptoms (such as a dry cough or a sore throat), and some have no symptoms at all (asymptomatic). However, pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) may occur in extreme cases. There is evidence that some critically ill patients can develop clots in their lungs, which can be fatal.

How Is Lung Inflammation Resulting From COVID-19 Diagnosed?

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, or symptoms that trouble you following contraction or exposure to COVID-19, speak to your doctor who may schedule a chest X-ray or CT scan to determine if you have respiratory inflammation. Depending on the outcome of tests run, your doctor will prescribe a course of treatment.


Learn More: COVID-19: Cases on The Rise, Let’s Stop The Spread

Is COVID-19 Lung Damage Reversible?

According to Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health, research suggests that a patient’s lungs can recover in many cases. Still, it might take anywhere from three months to a year or longer for a person’s lung function to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.


“While there is still much to learn about recovering from COVID-19, experience with other types of lung infections provides medical experts with some idea of what you may expect. Your path to recovery will be unique, depending on your overall health, the treatment provided, and any co-existing conditions,” says Hewlett.


Learn More: Symptoms of the New Omicron COVID-19 Variant


Based on current information, certain individuals are at a higher risk of suffering severe lung complications due to COVID-19. Those at greater risk include the elderly, those living with chronic diseases (such as hypertension, diabetescardiac problems, respiratory issues), and individuals on immune-suppressing medications.

Protecting Your And Your Family Against COVID-19

While a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, experts still recommend practicing COVID-19 safety protocols, including wearing a face mask in public, washing your hands often with soap and water, avoiding crowds, and social distancing. For more information on COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout in South Africa, click here.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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