In Some Long COVID Cases, Air Gets Trapped in Lungs

In Some Long COVID Cases, Air Gets Trapped in Lungs

(Reuters) – Some COVID-19 survivors with persistent breathing symptoms have evidence of “air trapping” that does not appear to be related to the severity of their acute illness.

Researchers studied 100 COVID-19 survivors who were still having respiratory problems, like coughs and shortness of breath, an average of more than two months after their diagnosis. Overall, 33 had been hospitalized, including 16 who had needed intensive care.

The amount of lung area showing so-called ground-glass opacities on imaging studies was higher in the hospitalized group than in those with milder disease, and it was even higher in patients who had required intensive care.

But COVID-19 severity made little difference in the average percentage of lung affected by air trapping: 25.4% in patients not hospitalized, 34.5% in those who were hospitalized without intensive care, and 27.2% in patients who had been critically ill. By comparison, that proportion was 7.3% in a group of healthy volunteers.

The air trapping was largely confined to patients’ small airways, according to a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

“The long-term consequences” of these patients’ small airways disease “are not known,” the authors said.

SOURCE: medRxiv, online May 29, 2021.

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