Here’s yet another reason why you want to protect yourself against COVID-19. Researchers have discovered that long-term effects of COVID may include brain changes and cognitive issues, sometimes referred to as “brain fog”— regardless of the severity of the illness.
Brain fog is defined as a sense that your thinking is slow or not sharp. Other symptoms include:
Problem solving difficulty
Trouble finding words
Feeling like you are moving in slow motion
In New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, a survey found that almost 70% of patients with long-term COVID reported brain fog symptoms. And other studies point to links between COVID and Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists are gathering data on how COVID changes the brain and the potential long-term consequences of those changes. For example, one large-scale study compared images of people’s brains before and during the pandemic. Researchers found that those infected by COVID had a reduced volume of gray matter, a type of brain tissue that helps process information, compared to those who had not experienced the virus.
Furthermore, those infected with COVID processed information more slowly than those who never had the illness. These findings held regardless of whether the person had mild COVID or required hospitalization for it.
One study showed that hospitalized COVID patients had similar brain biomarkers to those with Alzheimer’s.
Researchers think that these worrisome COVID-related brain changes may be caused by:
Reduced blood flow to the brain
Researchers are investigating treatments to reverse any cognitive deficits or increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease that may result from COVID infection. In the meantime, doctors are using cognitive therapy to help those affected manage their symptoms.