Hyderabad: Covid-19 can cause lung complications such as pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in about 5 per cent of total cases. Sepsis, the body’s overwhelming response to an infection, is another possible complication of Covid-19 that can also cause serious harm to the lungs.
Nonetheless, there are things Covid-19 patients can do to increase their chances for less severe lung damage. “Even after recovering from a serious case of Covid-19, a patient’s lungs can recover, but not overnight. There are few breathing exercises and ways which help in strengthening the respiratory muscles and improving lung capacity,” Dr Gopi Krishna Yedlapati, consultant interventional pulmonologist at Yashoda Hospitals, says in an interaction with Telangana Today.
Q. When does lung involvement show up in Covid-19 patients?
A. The lung involvement mostly shows up around the fifth day in Covid-19 patients. Therefore, just because you have tested positive, don’t rush and do a CT scan. Go for it only if you start experiencing respiratory symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath.
Q. Any exercises that can increase lung capacity?
A. The virus, in severe cases, settles within the lungs in the form of extensive white patches in multiple areas. It is called ground glass opacities, a pattern that can be seen when the lungs are sick. In that case, lungs turn solid, something like a brick, without any movement. But, if you don’t let them expand, oxygen levels start dropping. Ventilation is 50 per cent greater at the base of the lung than at the apex. The more the base of the lung expands, the more the body can absorb oxygen. Therefore, proning helps in stabilising breathing. It lets the lungs, particularly their dependent areas, expand.
The second is rapid breathing and breath-holding. It helps in improving the patient’s oxygen level. The third is the incentive spirometer technique. The spirometer has three balls with three different colors. It should be kept at your mouth level. Keep the mouthpiece inside your mouth and try to take air inside like how you suck. Breathing slowly with a spirometer allows your lungs to inflate fully.
There are issues post-Covid as well, especially in those who were critically ill. For them, apart from these exercises, pulmonary rehabilitation works effectively to increase lung capacity. In this, a physiotherapist, respiratory therapist, pulmonologist and psychologist are involved.
Q. How can one know if their lungs are getting affected?
A. It begins with a cough and eventually you can experience chest tightness and breathlessness. You may experience shortness of breath just after walking from one room to another or taking steps. These are the main symptoms that strongly suggest that there is a lung effect. If you experience that, you must immediately go and get a scan or consult a pulmonologist.
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