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How does COVID-19 affect the lungs?

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COVID-19 can harm the lungs in a few ways. As with the flu, some people who get the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will develop pneumonia as a complication. In that case, the air sacs fill with fluid. For some people, pneumonia related to COVID-19 becomes so severe that it leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This is a type of lung failure caused by damage to lung tissue. People with ARDS are very short of breath and may need to be put on a ventilator, a machine that "breathes" for you.

Reviewed by Paul Boyce on May 20, 2020

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