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How does COVID-19 affect the lungs?

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, infects the cells along the airways. It invades the cells in part by attaching to a specific cell receptor, called ACE-2, found on each cell. The virus uses ACE-2 as a doorway into the cell. The virus then takes over the cell’s ability to make copies of itself, and instead produces more copies of the virus to infect other cells.

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What are symptoms of COVID-19 affecting the lungs?

Some people may feel short of breath. People with chronic heart, lung, and blood diseases may be at risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, including pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, and acute respiratory failure. Patients with severe problems breathing due to COVID-19 may require oxygen therapy, a ventilator, or other airway support.

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What health conditions may put me at higher risk for experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms?

People with chronic lung conditions have an increased risk for severe COVID-19 and pneumonia. These include:

Some chronic heart and blood conditions, diabetes, and obesity may also impact how COVID-19 affects the lungs. Check CDC’s page on higher risk groups for more information on existing medical conditions and COVID-19.

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What can I do to keep myself and others safe?

COVID-19 Clinical Trials 

This searchable database shows federally and privately supported clinical trials studying COVID-19 in the United States and around the world.

Join a RECOVER Clinical Trial

RECOVER is a research project that aims to learn about the long-term health effects of COVID. They need to learn how COVID affects all people, including adults, pregnant people, and children.You can participate whether you have COVID now, had COVID before, or never had COVID.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from COVID-19. Wearing a mask indoors, washing your hands often, and staying at least 6 feet from other people can also help protect you and prevent possibly spreading the virus to others. The CDC provides up-to-date information on how to protect yourself and others.

In addition, consider:

Be sure to check these additional COVID-19 information sources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: