Deaths in Coronavirus Patients- Cytokine Storm Syndrome Causing Haywire Immune Response

When the coronavirus first struck and was declared a pandemic, the spread just blew up infecting thousands at a go and killings hundreds per day. Scientists had to first contain the virus before looking out for a cure. They had to know how it spread and which people were most prone to this strain of the virus, which created an international health scare. They found out that people with low immunities or the ones that have their immunities compromised are most likely to be in the category of being susceptible to infection.

The people most likely to get COVID-19 are

  • Senior citizens: it is because they would already have age-related ailments, on medication, may have chronic conditions, the body is already frail and weak due to age factor.
  • People of any age having chronic conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure issues, Cancer, AIDS: the body will have trouble fighting another disease along with the existing one and resulting complications that lead to death. Cancer and AIDS patients already have their immunities compromised are at higher risk.
  • People who have been to the epicentre of places where COVID-19 patients are high in number
  • The person is in contact with a person who has COVID-19 without any precautions.
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These are the cases wherein the person can get infected with the virus. There can be a silver lining if the patient responds to the treatment after getting infected. There are definite chances of getting cured and returning to normalcy after certain days of quarantine. Tests are conducted alternatively to ensure you are free from the virus and test negative would be a go-ahead that all is well with you.

But the scientists were baffled during the different phases of the virus pandemic across the world, perfectly healthy people were getting infected without any history of travel or contact with a COVID-19 person. They had to find out what triggered this kind of behaviour of the virus.

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Now another kind of problem has been exposed. The people who were getting treated for the COVID-19 are showing severe symptoms of the disease, and the study shows that the immune systems of the person are overreacting, which now is called a cytokine storm syndrome.

Though elderly and people with pre-health conditions are prone to get the virus, some people have fallen prey to the disease even at a young age of 19 and below. The disease causes a severe respiratory condition, which can lead to failure and needs mechanical ventilation for the person to breathe. This happens due to the fibrosis of the lungs. At times the body just gives up and can go into shock or multiple organ failure that can be fatal for the patient.

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Now the big question is, when does this cytokine storm get triggered?

Our bodies are designed to act when foreign bodies enter our system and to fight against them with the help of immune system cells. At times the body isn’t programmed very well about how to regulate the fight strongly. The immune system may go into overdrive and may end up killing healthy cells of the body, which is raking up the cytokine storm. What follows isn’t good for the infected person because the body can go into a state of sepsis, leading to death.

You would be wondering where these cytokines popped up in the virus infection scenario and where it was all this while. Well, cytokines are signaling proteins that our cells produce. When there is an increased production of immune cells, there is a sudden spurt in the level of cytokines as well. When the regulation of production goes haywire, you end up with a cytokine storm. It leads to an attack on the healthy cells of the body.

This kind of reaction of the body is unexplained, and it happens due to the autoimmune response, which may happen to any infection in the body, not just to coronavirus.

The coronavirus patient who experiences a cytokine storm will face

  • Lung inflammation
  • Fluid build-up
  • Respiratory distress

All because of the activated immune cells, which are released into the lungs. It now is one of the significant causes of deaths in infected persons.

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