What Happens When You Get Infected with Coronavirus?

How Does Coronavirus Attack Your Body?

A virus infects your body by entering healthy cells. There, the invader makes copies of itself and multiplies throughout your body.

The new coronavirus latches its spiky surface proteins to receptors on healthy cells, especially those in your lungs

Specifically, the viral proteins bust into cells through ACE2 receptors. Once inside, the coronavirus hijacks healthy cells and takes command. Eventually, it kills some of the healthy cells.

How Does Coronavirus Move Through Your Body?

COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, starts with droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze, or breath. They could be in the air or on a surface that you touch before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. That gives the virus a passage to the mucous membranes in your throat. Within 2 to 14 days, your immune system may respond with symptoms including:

Fever

A cough

Shortness of breath

Trouble breathing

Fatigue

Chills, sometimes with shaking

Body aches

Headache

A sore throat

Loss of taste

Loss of smell

Nausea

Diarrhea

The virus moves down your respiratory tract. That’s the airway that includes your mouth, nose, throat, and lungs. Your lower airways have more ACE2 receptors than the rest of your respiratory tract. So COVID-19 is more likely to go deeper than viruses like the common cold.

Your lungs might become inflamed, making it tough for you to breathe. This can lead to pneumonia, an infection of the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) inside your lungs where your blood exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide.

If your doctor does a CT scan of your chest, they’ll probably see shadows or patchy areas called “ground-glass opacity.”

For most people, the symptoms end with a cough and a fever. More than 8 in 10 cases are mild. But for some, the infection gets more severe. About 5 to 8 days after symptoms begin, they have shortness of breath (known as dyspnea). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) begins a few days later.

ARDS can cause rapid breathing, a fast heart rate, dizziness, and sweating. It damages the tissues and blood vessels in your alveoli, causing debris to collect inside them. This makes it hard.

Many people who get ARDS need help breathing from a machine called a ventilator.

As fluid collects in your lungs, they carry less oxygen to your blood. That means your blood may not supply your organs with enough oxygen to survive. This can cause your kidneys, lungs, and liver to shut down and stop working.

Not everyone who has COVID-19 has these serious complications. And not everyone needs medical care. But if your symptoms include trouble breathing, get help right away.

41 thoughts on “What Happens When You Get Infected with Coronavirus?

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