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Even with a mild form, COVID-19 can affect the brain: what you need to know

According to British neurologists, SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can cause serious damage to the brain and central nervous system and cause psychosis, paralysis or stroke. Writes about it DW.

Photo: Shutterstock

Recently, there has been numerous evidence that the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is actively attacking not only the lungs and respiratory tract, but also other organs of the human body. Severe damage can also be caused to the heart, blood vessels, nerve tissue, and skin.

British neuroscientists published in Brain magazine shocking evidence that coronavirus could cause serious brain damage even in patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have already recovered.

Neurologists at University College London have diagnosed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis in more than 40 British patients with COVID-19. This inflammatory disease leads to degenerative destruction of the central nervous system, which affects the so-called myelin sheath of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Various effects of COVID-19

Twelve of these patients suffered from inflammation of the central nervous system, ten from transient encephalopathy (brain disease) with delirium or psychosis, eight had a stroke, and another eight suffered from nerve damage, mainly with Guillain-Barré syndrome. This is an autoimmune reaction that attacks nerve cells, causes paralysis and in 5% of cases ends in death. Due to such complications, one of the patients died at the age of 59.

“COVID-19 attacks the brain in a way we've never seen in any virus before,” said study lead author and consultant at University College London, Michael Zandi. Serious brain damage, even in patients with mild symptoms, is uncommon.

On the subject: Permanently or permanently: for how long can complications remain after coronavirus?

New clinical trials of coronavirus-related diseases confirm fears that in some patients, COVID-19 may cause long-term health problems. Many patients experience shortness of breath and fatigue long after recovery. Other survivors suffer from numbness in the limbs, weakness, and memory problems.

“In terms of biology, acute multiple encephalomyelitis has similarities to multiple sclerosis, but it is more severe. Some patients develop long-term health problems, while others recover well, ”Zandi said.

The scale of complications remains to be seen.

He also added that the full range of diseases and complications caused by SARS-CoV-2 has probably not yet been identified, because many patients are in hospitals too severe to do brain research or other procedures.

“We would like to draw the attention of doctors around the world to these complications from coronavirus,” said Zandi. According to him, patients with cognitive impairments, memory problems, fatigue, deafness or weakness should definitely consult a neurologist.

Shocking Case Studies

Also, disturbing isolated cases from practice have been published. For example, a 47-year-old woman, after a week of coughing and fever, suddenly felt a headache and numbness in her right arm. In the hospital, she became sleepy and did not react to anything. During an emergency operation, she came to remove part of the skull to reduce pressure due to cerebral edema.

On the subject: Coronavirus actively mutates: how it affects the level of its infectivity

The 55-year-old patient, who had not previously suffered from mental illness, began to behave strangely on the day she was discharged from the hospital. She put on and took off her coat again and again, then she began to hallucinate, at home she saw monkeys and lions. In the hospital, she was prescribed antipsychotic medications.

Thousands of cases of brain damage in "Spanish flu"

British neurologists fear that in some patients, COVID-19 may leave such brain damage that will become noticeable only in subsequent years. According to the study, patients also experienced similar complications after the disastrous Spanish flu of 1918-1920. Probably almost a million people also had complications in the form of brain damage.

“Of course, we hope this does not happen. But since we are faced with a pandemic of this magnitude, which will affect a large part of the population, we must be prepared, ”said Michael Zandi.

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