Harvard Health Blog: How COVID Infection can cause brain damage


Emerging reports have revealed lingering cognitive impairments in individuals who have fully recovered from COVID infection. Participants were studied between three and six months after being infected with COVID-19. Over half had persistent forgetfulness issues, and roughly one in four had additional cognition issues such as language and executive dysfunction. These difficulties were liked with persistent problems in smell function, but not with the severity of the original COVID-19 disease.

Researchers believe that COVID induced brain damage is related to underlying inflammatory processes known as encephalitis. In addition, it has been established that strokes caused by COVID infection are common for all ages, with a greater mortality rate in patients 70 and older. Hence, It is also possible that patients with COVID suffered silent strokes as a result of deprived oxygen to the brain and are risk factors for major strokes and dementia. Silent strokes typically affect the brain’s white matter that is responsible for different parts of the brain to communicate with each other. When damaged, sustained attention is impaired.

While much is unknown about the neurological long-term effects of sustaining the COVID-19 virus, there are risk factors for dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, experts urge longitudinal follow-up studies should be conducted to determine the long-term neurological and neuropsychological impact.

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