Long Covid, for many people, has associations with severe neurocognitive and neurological impairments. This phenomenon is sometimes known as neuro-Covid. According to CDC, long Covid is “new, returning or ongoing health problems” occurring four weeks or more after contracting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid. As the pandemic progressed, around 1 in 3 people who were usually not admitted to the hospital for treatment and who tested positive for Covid and did not recover fully by three months.
Across ten body systems, an international study of long Covid documented 203 different symptoms. More than 88% of the 3,762 people reported memory problems and cognitive dysfunction among the people who completed the online survey. 65% reported experiencing symptoms for six months. Cognitive dysfunction along with breathlessness and fatigue was seen. In people with cognitive dysfunction following Covid silliness, brain fog is the most common symptom.
Long COVID, the post-Covid syndrome, is an ongoing physical, cognitive, or both symptom at least 6-12 weeks after having a positive test for Covid or signs of acute Covid. To describe the acute manifestations of Covid in the brain, some doctors and researchers used the term neuro-Covid. Long-neuro-Covid is the lasting neurological symptoms following acute infection of Covid. Those with neuro Covid usually complain of brain fog.
Brain fog means a loss of executive function. It is a symptom associated with anxiety and has signs of breathlessness, palpitations, and dizziness. These symptoms are seen in long Covid as well. For people with long Covid obtaining a formal cognitive assessment is difficult because of the overlapping of psychiatric diagnoses and post-viral fatigue. People who have post-Covid symptoms are eight times more likely to have contracted the virus than people who have not. Over 12 weeks, those people are three times more likely to have those symptoms consistently.
There was a new online study Great British Wellbeing Survey. The main focus of the study is to find out how Covid impacted brain function. The researchers, in response to Covid, added additional questions about health and Covid infection. In total, 81,337 people completed the online tests and questionnaire with an average age of 46.75 years. It was found by the researchers that when controlling for tiredness, depression, anxiety, racial-ethnic group, pre-existing medical disorders, age, gender, education level, income, even people who were no longer reporting symptoms had significant cognitive deficits versus controls.
In those with worse respiratory symptoms, the cognitive deficit was especially noticeable. But during the acute phase of the illness, it still occurred in those with no respiratory symptoms. The research could not establish that the cognitive deficit resulted from contracting Covid because this research was a cross-sectional study. The researchers have found that people who have Covid showed in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex a more significant loss of grey matter in various regions in the brain, an increase in signs of tissue damage, more signs of generalized brain atrophy. People who had Covid also showed a more significant cognitive decline on several cognitive function tests.
For the long-term neurological effects of Covid, many researchers tend to explain the pathological pathways. In generic explanations, fatigue post-illness are included. But the changes in brain scans of people who have Covid is not explained. Another explanation focuses on post ITU syndrome. But research has shown that these symptoms occur in individuals who have not spent time in the hospital. For cognitive dysfunction, another explanation is that microthrombi damage the brain when oxygen levels are low during the acute phase of the illness.