COVID-19 is associated with a variety of potentially serious complications. These can include, but aren’t limited to, respiratory distress, blood clots, and acute kidney injury.
Another possible complication is multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS). This is when multiple areas of your body become inflamed after you have COVID-19.
While MIS is most often associated with children, it can impact adults as well. Continue reading as we explore what we know so far about MIS in adults.
MIS is a condition that’s associated with COVID-19. In MIS, inflammation affects multiple parts of your body, which can include your:
- digestive tract
MIS can happen in both adults and children. According to the
Like MIS in children (MIS-C), MIS-A is associated with COVID-19. It comes on in the time shortly after you’ve had COVID-19. Generally speaking, people typically develop MIS-A
MIS-A is different in that it doesn’t always happen with respiratory symptoms. Instead, organ systems outside of your lungs are predominantly affected.
A low platelet count, which can lead to easy bleeding and bruising, can also occur.
MIS-A can become very serious. As such, if you develop symptoms of MIS-A, go to the emergency room or call 911 or local emergency services.
We still don’t know what exactly causes MIS-A. It appears as if the condition develops due to a dysfunctional immune response in the time after having COVID-19.
It’s also unclear why some people develop MIS-A and others don’t. It’s possible that differences in the immune system and genetics between individuals may play a role.
A 2021 study compared five people who had had MIS-A with healthy people. Laboratory studies found that the immune cells of people who had had MIS-A had a lower antiviral response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, than those of healthy people.
DNA sequencing revealed a total of 12 different variations in genes associated with the immune and antiviral response in people with MIS-A. The researchers theorize that these may contribute to MIS-A, although they note that much more research is needed to support this idea.
In order to be diagnosed with MIS-A, a person must:
- be age 21 or older
- have been hospitalized for 24 hours or longer
- not have another more likely cause of their symptoms
- meet the
current clinical criteriafor MIS-A
Diagnosing MIS-A will start with a medical history and physical exam. While collecting your medical history, a doctor will ask about your symptoms, any other medical conditions, and if you’ve recently had COVID-19.
If MIS-A is suspected, the following tests may be ordered:
- COVID-19 test: A COVID-19 test can see if you currently have COVID-19. However, due to the time gap between COVID-19 illness and MIS-A, some people with MIS-A may not have a positive COVID-19 test at the time they get care.
- Blood tests: Blood tests such as those measuring C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate can look for signs of inflammation in your body. Additional blood tests that may be used can include:
- Cardiac tests: People with MIS-A often have some sort of cardiac illness. An electrocardiogram (EKG) can measure the electrical activity in your heart, while an echocardiogram can use ultrasound to show how well your heart is working.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests such as X-ray and CT scan can aid your doctor in seeing what’s going on inside of your body.
There’s no standard way to treat MIS-A. It’s possible that you’ll be given treatments that help lower inflammation in your body. These may include corticosteroids or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).
You’ll also receive supportive care. This includes things such as:
Since MIS-A is associated with COVID-19, taking steps to prevent developing COVID-19 is the best way to prevent it. This
up to dateon your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
- washing your hands frequently with soap and water
- avoiding contact with those who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- moving indoor activities outside, if possible
- improving ventilation in indoor spaces, such as by opening windows and by changing air filters regularly
- wearing masks and practicing physical distancing while out in public, as needed
According to the
- Black or Hispanic
The researchers say that the reasons for the higher occurrence in these groups is unclear. They do note that the increased occurrence in Black and Hispanic people may be due to socioeconomic factors and inequalities in healthcare access.
MIS-A is a serious condition that requires treatment in a hospital. However, most people do recover from it.
Below, we’ll aim to briefly answer some of the additional questions that you may have about MIS-A.
How common is multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults?
The exact incidence of MIS-A is unknown. Overall, it’s a rare condition, because most cases of COVID-19 are mild to moderate and can be treated at home.
MIS-A is also rather uncommon in those who are hospitalized with COVID-19. For example, one
Is multisystem inflammatory syndrome different in children?
MIS-A and MIS-C are generally similar. According to the
- a longer hospital stay
- treatment with a ventilator
This finding could be due to the differences in the immune systems of adults and children as well as the higher likelihood of other underlying health conditions in adults.
Are there other conditions that are similar to multisystem inflammatory syndrome?
Yes. MIS has drawn comparisons to a condition called Kawasaki disease (KD). The exact cause of KD is unknown, but a viral or bacterial infection may contribute to it. Certain
KD mainly impacts children and has symptoms such as fever, rash, and inflammation of the extremities, mouth, and throat. Like MIS, KD is also associated with heart-related complications.
MIS is a severe inflammatory condition that happens after COVID-19 and affects multiple parts of the body. While it’s more often reported in children, it can also happen in adults.
It’s unclear how exactly COVID-19 leads to MIS-A. It’s also not known why some people develop it and others don’t. This difference likely comes down to individual immune and genetic factors.
MIS-A is serious and needs to be treated in a hospital. If you have a history of recent COVID-19 and get symptoms such as rash, abdominal pain, and bloodshot eyes, get immediate medical care.