A coronavirus is a type of virus that can infect the respiratory tract, through the eyes, nose, mouth, throat, sinuses, or lungs. There are many types of coronaviruses and most cause only mild illness, such as the common cold.
But some coronaviruses can cause severe illness. The most likely way people can become infected is by droplets that contain the virus. These droplets carry the virus into the air and can enter through the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs of a person who is within 6 feet or 2 meters.
The virus infects the lungs, causing the lungs to become inflamed. The alveolar sacs have to be healthy for the body to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.
Infection with the virus causes damage to the cells of the lungs and triggers an inflammatory reaction. Fever may develop. With severe inflammation, inflammatory fluid fills the lungs. This reduces the function of the alveoli, resulting in coughing and difficulty breathing. The oxygen level in the blood may decrease.
In some people who become severely ill, other organs may be affected, such as the kidneys or the heart. Medical care is then given to support these patients and maintain their health as their immune system responds to the infection.
Stay tuned for a follow-up article, where we go into more detail about how the Novel Coronavirus interacts with the body.