Covid-19 survivors report lingering “brain fog”

CAPE TOWN- Early evidence from Covid-19 case studies suggests that survivors may present with a variety of serious neurologic conditions, ranging from “brain fog” to large vessel strokes, or hypoxic brain injuries.

A new research paper, published in The Clinical Neuropsychologist, found that some people who recovered from Covid-19 could struggle to think clearly or experience lingering “brain fog”, which could also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The study examined research from past coronavirus outbreaks, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Researchers found that there was a high likelihood of psychiatric symptoms and disorders in Covid-19 survivors, including post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is defined as a condition that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a negative alteration, or a traumatic or terrifying event where the person underwent serious physical harm or threat.


A neurologist from University College London, Rachel Brown, said in an interview with Science that doctors are starting to see a class of patients who have reported they struggle to think clearly

After some severe viral infections, Brown says there are “those people who still don’t feel quite right afterward, but have normal brain scans”. Some neurologists and patients describe the phenomenon as “brain fog.” It’s largely a mystery, though one theory suggests it’s similar to a “postviral fatigue related to inflammation in the body,” she said.

Many Covid-19 “long-haulers” have described dozens of symptoms, including many that could have multiple causes, such as fatigue, joint pain, and fever.

The likelihood of a patient developing persistent symptoms is difficult to accurately determine as different studies track different outcomes and follow survivors for different lengths of time. A research study in Italy found that 87% of a patients hospitalized for acute Covid-19 were still struggling with symptoms 2 months later.

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