There are very common symptoms in those affected by persistent Covid-19 that receive a very nice name, with romantic overtones: brain fog. But there is nothing idyllic about them, quite the opposite. Mental clumsiness, difficulty concentrating, attention problems, and memory loss are the main features of this syndrome, which has gained great prominence recently. However, it is not only associated with infection by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Doctors clarify that it has nothing to do with Alzheimer’s, even though some symptoms resemble dementia in its very early stages. It tends to subside over time and can be treated, although there are still many unknowns to be cleared up, such as the percentage of those infected by Covid-19 that it affects and if there are people in whom these problems can persist for years or even become chronic.
The data provided by scientific studies and other publications reveal that around 10 -15% of patients who have had Covid-19 develop the persistent disease. According to a study published, the most frequent symptoms after six months are fatigue, malaise after exertion, and cognitive dysfunction. In the latter, the mental fog comes into play. As confirmed by experts for Covid-19, it affects a high percentage of patients with long Covid.
Up to 70% of individuals with persistent Covid may have this neuropsychological symptomatology that will ultimately also lead to anxiety, depression, or sleep disturbances because the patient is not emotionally well enough to deal with daily situations.
Warning Signs Of Covid-19 Brain Fog
One of the issues that characterize persistent Covid is independent of the number of symptoms. The individuals who experience the manifestations of mental fog are not necessarily those who have been in the ICU or have suffered more neurological damage after the acute phase of Covid-19. Initially, It can even occur in infected individuals after infection symptomless.
A typical profile of someone affected by brain fog after Covid-19 infection would be that of a young or middle-aged woman who is actively working. Although it is more noticeable in the female sex, as is generally the case with the manifestations of long Covid, the percentage of men with this symptom is not negligible. We can observe that it also occurs in children and adolescents, in whom there is a decrease in school performance.
These would be the main warning signs of mental fog after Covid infection that should guide the decision to consult a doctor:
- Concentration difficulty.
- Problems sustaining attention.
- Slower thinking.
- Memory failures.
- Symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Low mood.
- Sleep disorders.
- Appetite disorders.
Why Do Neuropsychological Symptoms Occur?
There is evidence that the coronavirus can also affect the central nervous system, just as it affects the vascular or pulmonary sphere.
The virus produces an inflammatory response in the body that manifests itself in the brain. That inflammation would explain the brain fog and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies before Covid relate a dysfunction of the inflammatory response and an increase in inflammation with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, eating behavior disorders, or personality disorders.
The areas of the brain that would be affected by brain fog are, above all, the areas most related to intellectual tasks. It is increasingly clear that the persistence of the virus in certain areas and the consequent inflammation causes these symptoms linked to memory and concentration. A cantonment of the Covid would prevent its detection and the immune system from attacking it. But would allow it to continue negatively affecting those areas of the brain.
Brain Fog Treatment
The treatment of neurocognitive symptoms is complex. We must add that everything related to Covid-19 is still a field to be explored. Added to the misunderstanding around mental fog is the lack of health resources. Armenteros considers it necessary to make health authorities and the population aware of the impact of persistent Covid-19 in general and, in particular, of neuropsychological manifestations. The problem is that many people do not know what is happening to them. They resign themselves, and since there are no neurorehabilitation units essential for this type of patient, they adapt the symptoms to their daily lives.
Specialists agree that it can do little to treat brain fog. First of all, it should stress that time plays in favor of patients. In general, memory and concentration problems tend to improve.
What Doctors And Other Health Experts Can Do
It is essential that those who suffer from the neurocognitive symptoms of persistent Covid feel accompanied by the health professionals who treat them. After going to the primary care doctor, should refer patients with neuropsychological problems for neurocognitive rehabilitation that interferes with their daily activities. That encompasses the different therapeutic methods used to compensate or improve the cognitive deficit that occurs due to diseases or injuries that affect the brain’s functioning. It is, therefore, a multidisciplinary treatment.
Likewise, psychiatrists and psychologists should treat the symptoms of anxiety and depression that are frequently associated with this attention, concentration, and memory problems. They will decide on the most appropriate medical treatment and psychotherapy for each case.
What Can Those Affected Do?
A healthy lifestyle affects mental well-being. Here are some of the fundamental suggestions:
- Physical exercise.
- Adequate food.
- Meditation, stress management, breath control.
- Rest, good sleep hygiene.
- Cultivate social bonds with family and friends.