In simple words, a new study from UC Davis Health suggests that getting sick with COVID-19 might weaken our bones.
This might come as a surprise, but the research points to serious bone issues in people who’ve had COVID-19, which could even lead to higher chances of broken bones.
Understanding Our Bones and COVID-19
Firstly, let’s look at our bones. Our bones are not just hard, lifeless structures. They’re alive and constantly changing.
Our body continually breaks down old bone and forms new bone. But what happens if this balance is disrupted? It could lead to bone loss, making bones weak and more likely to break.
Now, let’s talk about COVID-19. It’s a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. We know it mainly affects the lungs, but scientists are finding out it can harm other parts of our body too.
Researchers at UC Davis Health did a study where they gave some mice COVID-19 and observed changes in their bones. The mice that were sick with the virus lost a lot of bone.
If the same happens in people, it means that after getting over COVID-19, they might have weaker bones and a higher risk of breaking them, especially as they age.
COVID-19 and Bone Breaks
Bone breaks that happen easily, like from a small fall, are known as fragility fractures. The study suggests that these might be a hidden long-term effect of having had COVID-19.
This is very concerning because broken bones can make it harder for people to live independently, especially if they’re older.
In the study, the researchers looked at the bones of mice who’d had COVID-19 and found significant changes. They also checked if the virus was present in the joints, which are places where bones meet.
They found signs that the virus had indeed reached these parts, suggesting it might have directly affected the bones and joints.
The study showed that the virus could make big changes to how bones are structured, in both male and female mice.
This research is the first time that anyone has shown how COVID-19 could harm bones, from causing bone loss to disrupting growth.
How Does COVID-19 Affect Bones?
How exactly does COVID-19 harm bones? The researchers think there might be a few ways. When the virus enters the body, it triggers the immune system to fight it off.
This can lead to what’s known as inflammation. If there’s too much inflammation, it can harm the bones and joints.
Another way is through lack of physical activity. People who are very sick with COVID-19 have to stay in bed for a long time.
Not being able to move around can lead to bone loss because bones need the stress of weight-bearing activity to stay strong.
And finally, some medicines used to treat severe COVID-19, like corticosteroids, can also lead to bone loss.
So what’s the big picture? This study is like a warning sign. It tells us that COVID-19 may not just be a lung disease. It can have serious effects on other parts of the body, like our bones.
This new information is important for doctors and patients to be aware of. More research is needed, but this finding could change how we treat and care for people recovering from COVID-19 in the future.
If you care about bone health, please read studies about how to protect your bones with exercise, and eating prunes may help prevent bone loss in older women.
The study was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.
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