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How Coronavirus Targets Your Lungs

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

You’ve probably heard that there is a strong link between the coronavirus and lungs. The coronavirus has an affinity for lung tissue, and it can lead to some serious complications in your respiratory tract. In this article, I’ll explain how coronavirus targets your lungs and how it can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

I will cover:

Black and white illustration of coronavirus with text and virus shape.


The coronavirus has an affinity for lung tissue

The name for the coronavirus comes from the word corona, meaning ‘crown.’ That’s because if you could look at the virus up close, you’d see these little physical projections on it that make it look like a crown.

And those little projections have an affinity for lung tissues.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronvirus, is a respiratory illness. It reaches into your respiratory tract and can affect your lungs. In mild cases, symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a common cold, but in severe cases, it can result in respiratory failure and become fatal.

Let’s take a closer look at the link between the coronavirus and lungs, and why this disease is so dangerous to your lung health.

Medical drawing of human lung anatomy on man’s body with viruses around, respiratory infection.


How the coronavirus damages the lungs

When the coronavirus becomes severe, it will infect not just your upper respiratory tract, but all the way down into the deepest part of your lungs.

Here’s what happens:

Your lungs are like an upside-down tree, with the trunk being your windpipe. As you go lower and lower into the lungs, the branches split and become smaller and smaller branches. At the very end of the bronchial tree, at the tips of the smallest branches, are little air sacs called alveoli.

The alveoli are where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged with your blood. The alveoli sacs butt up against tiny capillaries. As you breathe in, oxygen enters your lungs, travels to the alveoli, and diffuses through the thin wall into the capillaries. It then can enter your red blood cells and be carried throughout the body to where it is needed.

Carbon dioxide travels the opposite way, leaving your blood and crossing the thin barrier to the alveoli, exiting the body as you breathe out.

Medical anatomy drawing of human lungs, showing bronchial tree and alveoli air sacs capillaries.

Unfortunately, as a coronavirus infection starts to set in and becomes more serious, it will create damage to the lining of the alveoli and to the capillaries on the other side of the thin wall.

Here’s some of the damage that occurs:

  • The lining of the alveoli gets destroyed.

  • Inflammation increases.

  • Plasma leaks, filling the lung up with fluid.

  • Alveoli walls start to thicken, resulting in reduced O2/CO2 exchange.

Ultimately, as the damage to the lungs adds up, you end up with something called acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

In severe cases of COVID-19, there is a high chance of the person getting ARDS. ARDS is a form of respiratory failure where the lungs get super inflamed and are unable to function properly anymore.

With ARDS, you end up with something called hypoxia, meaning you have a lack of oxygen in the body.

The symptoms of ARDS include:

  • Rapid breathing

  • Breathlessness

  • Dizziness

  • Sweating

The damage to the lungs, and the inability to move oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the blood, is why supportive care for coronavirus patients is so critical. COVID-19 patients need more oxygen because of the severe inflammation in the lungs, and eventually they may need help breathing.


Two key nutrients can support this condition

When we look at the harmful link between the coronavirus and lungs, there are some key nutrients that are usually missing from the picture but that can make a difference.

Vitamin D and zinc are the top two nutrients that can actually provide a lot of positive benefit for the coronavirus.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an immune modulator that can greatly improve the strength of your immune function. Vitamin D is also a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient, and it can support people with high levels of inflammation (as with COVID-19).

90% of patients with ARDS have very low levels of vitamin D. If I had ARDS, I would personally be taking vitamin D immediately to make sure my body has sufficient levels. Without it, your immune system can become compromised and unable to fight infections like the coronavirus. Learn more about the importance of vitamin D for COVID-19 here.

Vitamin D supplement capsules lined up in shape of the letter D.

2. Zinc

Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for your lungs, especially if you want to reduce inflammation. Zinc plays a key role in the immune system, and it is vital for protecting your health.

If you are deficient in zinc, you are more susceptible to infections, your immune army won’t be working at its full capacity, and infections will last longer. Again, if I had coronavirus and ARDS, I would turn to zinc for nutritional support. Learn more about coronavirus and zinc here.

Both vitamin D and zinc are inexpensive nutrients that can go a long way in supporting your lungs and your entire body in fighting the harmful effects of COVID-19.

Cartoon drawing of woman holding sword and shield fighting viruses, immune system protection.


Coronavirus and lungs: the bottom line

The coronavirus has an affinity for lung tissue. The infection can make its way deep into your lungs, causing damage and promoting severe inflammation. As a result, it becomes difficult for you to breathe and your body is no longer able to get oxygen to where it needs to go.

To keep yourself as safe and healthy as possible, supporting your body with natural nutrients that boost the immune system and reduce inflammation is critical.

Consider vitamin D and zinc, and try out these other tips for boosting your immune system here.

Did you know how the coronavirus affects the lungs? Share your comments and questions with me down below.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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