As the pandemic spreads around the world, doctors are beginning to scope the coronavirus’s damage. Seen initially as a cause of viral pneumonia during the chaos of an explosion of cases in China, it’s now emerging as an enigmatic pathogen capable of harming the body in a myriad of unexpected, and sometimes lethal, ways. Clinical manifestations range from common cold-like symptoms and bronchitis to more severe disease such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, multi-organ failure and even death. The illness may occur as a direct result of viral infection, as well as the body’s response to it. Here’s a snapshot of some of the symptoms Covid-19 causes, including some you might not have heard about.
Blood — fever and inflammation may disrupt blood vessels, rendering blood cells more prone to clumping while interfering with the body’s ability to dissolve clots. That may trigger a clotting cascade that can lead to blood-vessel blockages in tissues and organs throughout the body. Life-threatening clots in the arteries of the lung, known as pulmonary emboli, may occur even after symptoms of the infection have resolved. Damaged blood vessels may become leaky and prone to bleeding. In children, inflammation of veins and arteries triggered by excessive immune activation may cause an illness similar to Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory disorder.
Brain — dysfunction in the lining of blood vessels and associated bleeding and clotting disorders may cause strokes and bleeding in the brain. Patients may also experience headache, dizziness, confusion, impaired consciousness, poor motor control, delirium and hallucinations.
Eyes — red, puffy eyes, sometimes referred to as pink eye, may result from infection in the conjunctiva, the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the white part of the eye.
Gastrointestinal tract — infection of cells lining the digestive tract may cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Blood-vessel blockages caused by abnormal clotting have been found to damage the bowel, requiring emergency surgery and resection.