Pune: Not every Covid-19 patient will go on to develop lung fibrosis after recovery. Chest physicians in the city say only 10-15% of recovered patients will experience this condition.
Even among this small portion of cases, around 85% patients will experience harmless residual fibrosis with some coughing and breathlessness during exertion, the doctors say.
Residual fibrosis is the scarring in the lung tissue which develops as a response to inflammation due to infection. Simply put, it’s part of the body’s healing process. Some scar tissue (tissue that forms after normal tissue is damaged by disease) remains after active infection subsides.
“Post-Covid fibrosis is still a puzzle. But it’s clear that it is way different than idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). It should be completely reversible over time in more than 85% affected individuals,” chest physician Mahavir Modi told TOI.
“In most patients, fibrosis has been residual and self-limiting as it is part of the body’s healing process. It heals on its own if your body has a good immune response and the active infection is cured,” Modi said.
Sassoon hospital’s pulmonologist Sanjay Gaikwad said, “Only in a minuscule number of recovered Covid-19 patients did we observe lung fibrosis that needed extended oxygen support even at home.”
IPF is a disease of unknown causes in which doctors cannot pinpoint triggers for lung fibrosis even after eliminating some known risk factors such as rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disease, drugs, toxins, chemicals and infection. But in post-Covid cases, it’s clear that fibrosis has been caused by Sars-CoV-2.
Doctors, however, are unsure how long this condition lasts after Covid recovery as five months of the outbreak has generated limited patient data.
“It is too early to comment on its uniqueness or how it will behave over time. But one pattern is that it (lung fibrosis) develops in the area where Covid-19 infection or pneumonia was noticed,” Modi said.
Early Covid diagnosis, swift treatment, adequate hydration and use of Vitamin C and zinc supplements can help prevent post-Covid fibrosis, doctors say.
Also, Modi said post-Covid-19 lung fibrosis typically impacts pe