Lung damage from coronavirus can be long lasting – local health experts weigh in


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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Texas trauma surgeon Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall, who has used her social media platform during the pandemic to give insight into what is happening behind-the-scenes with patients and COVID-19. When it comes to COVID-19 patients — even those who have been given the all-clear — she said their lungs might tell a different story. That tweet, which is below, grabbed the attention of thousands.

18 News reached out to local health experts to get them to weigh in on the long-lasting lung damage from COVID-19. Greggory Loewen, staff pulmonologist at Arnot Health said that this is a new disease that the medical field is continuing to learn about every day.

“The studies do show that they have some abnormalities on their breathing tests, and there aren’t they aren’t the same kind of abnormalities that you see with emphysema.” Said Loewen.

He said that those abnormalities are mainly in those who experienced a more severe case of the disease and were in Intensive Care. “That subset of patients those who get really sick and have bad pneumonia and are on the ventilator.” Loewen continued, thankfully that subset of patients is small.

Dr. James Walsh, Pulmonologist at Guthrie Medical believes the main concern of long-term effects is developing fibrosis, which could potentially lead to the permanent reliance on oxygen in some people.

“Some of the things we’re going to be concerned with is the development of what we call fibrosis or permanent scarring in the lungs. And that may lead to smaller lung volumes, it may lead to a problem where you have an inability to get things like oxygen from the lungs into the bloodstream.” Said Walsh. “And that may lead to people feeling substantially shorter breath with activities and even sometimes at rest in some of them may require even long term oxygen.”

Dr. Walsh also mentioned some alarming findings in those COVID patients that are getting the worst of the virus, saying that little to no normal lung tissue can be found in their cat scans.

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