The new coronavirus results in death by causing the small organs in the lungs to become clogged with inflammation, thereby bankruptcy of vital organs as a result of the body’s lack of oxygen.
However, an article on the Washington Post newspaper and Independent’s website contains information that doctors from different countries around the world have come across evidence that the virus has also caused cardiac inflammation, acute kidney disease, neurological disorder, blood clotting, intestinal damage, and liver problems.
Therefore, doctors state that the treatment of severe Covid-19 cases becomes difficult, and the healing process has become more uncertain.
Doctors and researchers say that they cannot be attributed to the “cytokine storm”, which only refers to the immune system’s overreaction to the virus and attack the body.
According to nephrologist Alan Kliger at Yale University School of Medicine in the USA, nearly half of those hospitalized for Covid-19 have blood and protein in the urine, indicating that the kidneys are damaged.
Kliger points out to another finding that is more frightening and states that 14 to 30 percent of patients who are taken to intensive care in New York and Wuhan should be treated for dialysis or continuous renal change as a result of kidney failure.
He says that there is a constant call for volunteers to perform dialysis in intensive care units in New York, and there is a problem with the supply of sterile fluid used in other treatment.
Kliger states that having so many patients suffering from kidney failure is a “new condition” for him, and he attributes this to “attacking the virus by attaching to kidney cells”.
However, doctors and researchers say that there is not enough data to reach definitive clinical results in this process where the epidemic is still in full swing.
Damage to organs and tissues may also be due to other causes: respiratory failure, medications taken, high fever, intensive care unit stress, and cytokine storm.
However, in an article published by Wuhan researchers in the medical journal Kidney International on April 9, it was stated that 9 of the autopsies performed in 26 patients who died as a result of Covid-19 had acute kidney damage and 7 had coronavirus particles in their kidneys.
Inflammation of the heart muscle and rhythm disorder
The virus may also be causing damage to the heart. Doctors in China and New York reported that patients with Covid-19 encountered rhythm disturbances that could lead to cardiac muscle inflammation (myocarditis) and sudden cardiac arrest.
“It can be seen that suddenly there is a disproportionate problem in their hearts,” says Mitchell Elkind, a neurologist at the University of Columbia and President of the American Heart Foundation.
Elkind says that as a result of the examination of severe patients in China, 40 percent of them had rhythm disturbances and 20 percent of them suffered damage to the heart muscle, and concerns that this could have been a “direct effect of the virus.”
The new coronavirus sticks to the ACE2 receptors located on the cell surface of the infected person. There are predictions that there is no doubt that it attacks cells in the respiratory tract, but adheres to other cells in the same way. For example, since these receptors are 100 times more in the digestive system than other areas, it is stated that it may offer an important multiplication opportunity for the virus.
Researchers say that in Covid-19 patients, the immune system has become overactive to combat the virus, and excessive release of cytokine can cause damage to many organs.
This condition, called cytokine release syndrome, is also found in people with autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks the body itself. Some cancer patients undergoing inflammatory rheumatism or immunotherapy are examples.
Jeffrey Weber, from NYU Langone Medical Center, attributes some Covid-19 patients to intensive care and the attachment to an artificial respirator to cytokine storm.
“When the cytokine level gets out of control, bad things happen. It can turn into a complete disaster,” he says. The reason why cytokine storm is encountered in some patients and not in others is unknown; some doctors say that genetic factors may play a role.
In the treatment of cytokine storm, some drugs used in cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy are used.
Loss of taste and smell
Another interesting symptom in Covid-19 patients is the loss of taste and smell. When the patients in Italy and other countries were examined, it was found that the loss of sense of smell in some of them started before the symptoms of other diseases. “The coronavirus attacks and invades the nerve endings that provide smell,” says Claire Hopkins, president of the British Nose Disease Association. As such, the smell message cannot be delivered to the brain.
Hopkins states that the loss of sense of smell (anosmia) was not initially recognized as a symptom of Covid-19, because doctors focused on respiratory problems.
However, later studies found that 60 percent of patients had a sense of smell and taste. A quarter of them stated that anosmia developed before other symptoms appeared. So, this sensory loss can be seen as the first symptom of Covid-19.
Hopkins also says that those who lose their sense of smell and taste have no severe respiratory problems. However, in some of these patients, such as confusion, low blood oxygen levels and loss of consciousness, the virus shows that the smell in the nose jumped from the nerve endings to the central nervous system.
“Nobody knows why different symptoms occur in different people,” says Hopkins.
It is stated that one third of 38 patients who were treated in the hospital due to Covid-19 in Hubei region of China, had symptoms of eye inflammation (conjunctivitis).
The presence of the virus in the mucous layer covering the eye in some of the patients shows that the eyes may be one of the entry points of the virus into the body. This is one reason healthcare professionals use transparent face visors.
Effect on digestive system
The virus also affects the digestive system, causing symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. It is stated that half of Covid-19 patients have these symptoms. To raise awareness on this issue, experts launched a campaign on Twitter with the tag “#NotJustCough” (Not Just Cough).
Research shows that cough is also observed in patients with digestive system symptoms, but one of these symptoms may start a few days before the other.
According to Brennan Spiegel, editor of the journal, American Journal of Gastroenterology, “the virus settles in multiple organ systems”.
Liver damage from acute hepatitis
There are findings that show that the virus also affects the liver. A 59-year-old woman goes to the hospital with a complaint of urine darkening in the Long Island region of the USA. It is determined that this is caused by acute hepatitis. Later, the patient is diagnosed with Covid-19 due to other symptoms such as developing cough, and the cause of liver damage is attributed to it.
Spiegel says there are similar instances of acute viral hepatitis, some in China.
One of the dangers caused by the virus is that it causes clots in the legs and other vessels. These clots reach the lungs through the bloodstream, leading to deaths caused by “lung embolism”.
When 81 patients with Covid-19-induced pneumonia were hospitalized in Wuhan, 20 of them had lung embolism, and 8 of them died. The findings of the research were published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Hemostasis on April 9.
For this reason, it is stated that many Covid-19 patients use blood-thinning drugs in New York City. Experts say that more research is needed on this issue, emphasizing the large number of cases.