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A virus on the rise: How coronavirus attacks the lungs?

The number of coronavirus infections is constantly increasing. And with it the fear of the consequences, because the virus can become very dangerous.

Chinese doctors examine the lung CT of a corona patient.

Coronavirus infects the lower airways and can cause severe lung disease

The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 The New Coronavirus has been spreading since December 2019.

What are the first symptoms?

"It starts with coughing, sniffles, hoarseness. At first you cough slightly, and then it gets worse and worse, because the lungs want to get rid of the mucus that forms. After coughing, the temperature rises relatively quickly. The fever often starts after a few hours, but the temperatures rise the next day at the latest," explains Prof. Dr. med. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow, Chief Physician of the Hygiene Institute Berlin.
According to Zastrow, sick people would notice that they are in pain just by breathing. Mostly in the back, where the lungs are. In addition, there would be fever, and the temperature would rise very quickly, typical for viral diseases.

What happens then?

"The sick suffer from respiratory problems. "You have to make sure that you can still breathe properly. If not, you have to go to hospital for treatment. Because now the actual, life-threatening problem can arise - just like with a normal flu: pneumonia," says the physician.

How does Corona infect the lungs?

"If the corona virus penetrates deep into the lung, it can multiply relatively quickly and lead to serious illness. Especially if those affected already have a lung disease or other chronic pre-existing conditions," says Dr. Susanne Huggett, head of hospital hygiene and infection prevention at the Asklepios Clinics in Hamburg.

Due to the inflammation, the lungs are less and less able to provide sufficient oxygen to the body. "At some point, the organs are no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen. They stop working and the person dies of organ failure," adds Prof. Zastrow.

Do antibiotics help?

No. According to Prof. Zastrow, there is no direct therapy for viral diseases. "One always treats only the symptoms. You try to lower the fever, you try to relieve the pain, and you try to clear the lungs, of course. But this already happens in the intensive care unit, where they try to loosen the mucus and suck it out. Patients may need artificial respiration."