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What happens to your body if you have a serious case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus?

ANSWER

Serious coronavirus infections can cause pneumonia. This makes your airways swell and fill your lungs with fluid. In the most severe cases, this fluid in the lungs can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. People who get this condition are usually already in the hospital for the illness that caused it. ARDS makes it difficult or impossible to breathe.

As fluid collects in the lungs, they carry less oxygen to your blood. That means your blood may not supply your organs with enough oxygen to survive. This can cause organs like your kidneys and liver to shut down and stop working.

SOURCES:

Raina McIntyre, PhD, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Professor of Global Biosecurity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

MedlinePlus: “Viral Infections,” “Fever.”

CDC: “Coronavirus.”

Nature: “Virus.”

Science: “Cryo-EM structure of the 2019-nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation.”

Genetics Home Reference: “What is a cell?”

Federation of American Scientists: “Do you have COVID-19 questions? Our scientists have answers.”

Journal of the American Medical Association: “Coronavirus infections—more than just the common cold.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “That nagging cough.”

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: “Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – United States, February 12 – March 16, 2020.”

American Lung Association: “What causes pneumonia?” “Learn about ARDS.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Here’s the Damage Coronavirus (COVID-19) Can Do to Your Lungs.”

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava on September 23, 2020

SOURCES:

Raina McIntyre, PhD, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, Professor of Global Biosecurity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

MedlinePlus: “Viral Infections,” “Fever.”

CDC: “Coronavirus.”

Nature: “Virus.”

Science: “Cryo-EM structure of the 2019-nCoV spike in the prefusion conformation.”

Genetics Home Reference: “What is a cell?”

Federation of American Scientists: “Do you have COVID-19 questions? Our scientists have answers.”

Journal of the American Medical Association: “Coronavirus infections—more than just the common cold.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “That nagging cough.”

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: “Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – United States, February 12 – March 16, 2020.”

American Lung Association: “What causes pneumonia?” “Learn about ARDS.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Here’s the Damage Coronavirus (COVID-19) Can Do to Your Lungs.”

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava on September 23, 2020

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