SLU Hospital pulmonologist responds to claims that COVID will ruin your lungs

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – We know COVID has a negative effect on the lungs, but the long-term damage could be worse than we thought. One doctor in Texas claims x-rays of COVID lungs look worse than the lungs of smokers.

Dr. Ravi Nayak, the interim chairman and professor of internal medicine and director of the division of pulmonary at SLU Hospital, says that’s not necessarily true. They really only expect to see lung damage in patients who end up in the ICU and on a ventilator

“It is a wrong notion for your viewers to think if they develop COVID they are going to have bad lungs or bad lung function,” he said. “It all depends on what part of the body is affected due to COVID and if they have severe lung disease requiring ICU admission then they can expect to have some impact on their lung function.”

He shared these x-rays of a normal lung and one of a patient with severe COVID. Nayak said this is the type of patient where they could expect to see some long term lung scarring.

But what if you had a less severe case of COVID? Nayak says your lungs should heal well and look pretty healthy.

Nayak says the best thing you can do for your lungs if you have had COVID is exercise, wear your mask, social distance, and get vaccinated when it’s available.

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