The first cases of COVID-19 indicated that the disease targets only the lungs. But with the growing number of patients worldwide, doctors have been discovering other effects of the coronavirus disease on several organs in the body.
Some health experts consider COVID-19 as one of the “great imitators.” These diseases make diagnosis difficult since they appear similar to other conditions.
Recent reports from hospitals around the world suggested that the novel coronavirus could also cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of taste and smell, pinkeye, muscle aches, loss of appetite and rashes, WebMD reported.
In some cases, doctors said COVID-19 patients suffered from heart rhythm problems, heart failure, kidney damage, headaches, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome. The disease also appeared affecting blood sugar levels.
“This is a disease progression we have never seen for any infection that I can think of, and I’ve been doing this for a couple of decades,” Joseph Vinetz, an infectious disease specialist at Yale School of Medicine, said.
How COVID-19 Harms Organs
When the coronavirus enters the body through the mouth, nose or eyes, it targets a receptor called ACE2, which is present in different organs in the body. The virus attaches to ACE2 and uses the human cell to produce millions and millions of copies of itself, leading to infection.
In people with weakened immune system, viral particles could travel deeper into the body. The coronavirus could start in the lungs and go to the heart muscle, kidneys, blood vessels, the liver and potentially the central nervous system.
With infection all over the body, the patient is more likely to experience severe symptoms. The effects of COVID-19 may also appear externally.
Dermatologists from different countries, including Canada, France, Turkey and the U.S., confirmed cases that involved skin problems or rashes when patients tested positive for coronavirus.
Sanober Amin, a dermatologist from Texas, said some patients appeared with “superficial clotting in blood vessels close to the skin.” Doctors call the condition “COVID toes” because most of the small clots occurred in the toes and fingers.
Researchers have yet to understand how COVID-19 directly causes changes in the body. Studies are ongoing to see which symptoms occur because of the virus and which may just be unrelated conditions.