Covid-19 has been found to impact a range of organs including stomach, intestine, brain, kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, blood vessels, eyes, and skin. (Representative photo: PTI)
When the novel coronavirus outbreak was reported from Wuhan towards the end of December 2019, the disease this virus, SARS-CoV-2, caused was a pneumonia-like mysterious ailment. India was still more than two months away from having the first case of local coronavirus transmission.
Information about the disease, later named Covid-19, was limited. Most people testing positive did not have any major symptom of illness. A few others had only mild troubling symptoms. And, a small percentage had serious difficulties in breathing, leading to scarier deaths.
As the outbreak travelled to all parts of the globe, experts categorised Covid-19 pandemic into three broad categories: asymptomatic, mild and severe. A fourth category emerged a little later as moderate to distinguish between the mild and severe Covid-19 cases.
Now, with India having been the global hotspot through August, the doctors and health experts know a lot more about the coronavirus and Covid-19. They all agree that Covid-19 is not just a respiratory disease or illness.
This was the view that experts from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) espoused earlier this week in their weekly National Clinical Grand Rounds discussion organised in collaboration with the Niti Aayog.
WHAT EXPERTS SAY
For example, AIIMS neurology department head Dr MV Padma Srivastava cited the case of a 35-year-old man who could be classified as asymptomatic or mild case of Covid-19 for showing symptoms such as headache and vomiting. But he had a life-threatening cortical vein thrombosis or clotting of blood.
She said, “In some patients, the brain is involved and it may lead to clotting, resulting in stroke or can cause infection and lead to encephalitis or other complications which have nothing to do with lungs.”
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria concurred saying, “We have seen many patients who presented with features which are not been predominantly pulmonary but extra-pulmonary manifestations.”
Such patients could have mild or moderate pulmonary symptoms or infections in lungs but their extra-pulmonary condition may pose serious threats such as brain strokes and heart blockades.
WHY COVID-19 PROTOCOL MUST CHANGE
What is clearly known now is that Covid-19’s effect is not limited to lungs, nose and throat, and it is not merely manifested through a fever.
Still the government’s protocol depends heavily on symptoms such as fever, dry cough and difficulty in breathing. This is what you hear when you make a phone call — an automated message from the telecom companies describes this.
Covid-19 has been found to impact a range of organs including stomach, intestine, brain, kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, blood vessels, eyes, and skin.
Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain are now seen as symptoms of Covid-19 when the virus impacts the gastrointestinal region.
Intense headache, dizziness, swelling in the brain, blood clotting, stroke and even Guillain-Barre (gee-yah-buh-ray) syndrome — in which body’s immune system launches severe attack on the nerves — have been found to be associated with Covid-19.
In kidneys, Covid-19 causes injuries to the organ’s cells, pushes up the protein levels in the urine and causes blood to mix with urine. Increased bilirubin levels and damages to liver cells have been seen in patients of Covid-19.
The reason why diabetic persons have found it difficult to deal with Covid-19 is that the coronavirus has been found to cause inflammation in pancreas called pancreatitis and hyperglycaemia spike in sugar levels.Covid-19 patients have reported damages in heart muscles, a slowing heart beat and a sudden condition, called cardiogenic shock, in which the heart fails to maintain the required level of blood supply in the body.