Coronavirus could be causing lung damage that is visible three months after the infection, a new study has found.
The research could be a possible link to long Covid, something that experts still do not fully understand.
A study of 10 patients by boffins at the University of Oxford used a new scanning method to detect lung abnormalities.
The experiment, which was led by Professor Fergus Gleeson, involved patients between 19 and 69.
A larger study is now being organise to ephor whether Covid-19 causes permanent lung damage.
Of the small sample, eight participants reported shortness of breath and fatigue more than three months after first falling ill.
The scan found lung abnormalities in all participants that traditional scanning would not have picked up, the BBC reports.
And it showed signs of lung damage – by highlighting areas where air is not flowing easily into the blood – in the eight who reported breathlessness.
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Professor Gleeson told the BBC: “I was expecting some form of lung damage, but not to the degree that we have seen."
The lung abnormalities could be a factor behind long Covid, where people report symptoms including fatigue long after becoming infected, the researcher said.
Professor Gleeson now plans to work with GPs to scan Covid-19 patients across a range of age groups, with the aim of discovering whether lung damage is inevitable.
The researcher said discovering long term problems in younger patients would be a gamechanger.
A study reported in September that up to 60,000 people in the UK have been suffering from long-Covid for more than three months.
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