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How Long Does Covid Brain Fog Last

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If I Tested Positive For Covid

Battling brain fog after COVID-19

The short answer is likely, yes, said Dr. Sanghavi, adding that there were a significant number of patients who were initially asymptomatic but then they subsequently developed symptoms, which are particular to COVID long haulers or long COVID.

And thats why COVID-19 is a very intriguing disease. It’s not just a simple virus affecting the body, there are immune and inflammatory mechanisms which affect the patient’s body, he added. Additionally, the patient may be initially asymptomatic, but subsequently develops symptoms like anxiety, depression, fatigue and so on.

This Is Your Brain On Alcohol

  • By Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Its no secret that alcohol affects our brains, and most moderate drinkers like the way it makes them feel happier, less stressed, more sociable. Science has verified alcohols feel-good effect PET scans have shown that alcohol releases endorphins which bind to opiate receptors in the brain. Although excessive drinking is linked to an increased risk of dementia, decades of observational studies have indicated that moderate drinking defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men has few ill effects. However, a recent British study seems to have bad news for moderate drinkers, indicating that even moderate drinking is associated with shrinkage in areas of the brain involved in cognition and learning.

If I Lost My Smell Or Sense Of Taste Will I Get It Back

According to one study, 95% of the patients recover their sense of taste and smell eventually, said Dr. Sanghavi, adding that it may take months, but their sense of taste and smell sensation would come back.Initially it was thought that it is a direct invasion of virus into the olfactory cells or the neurons, but now, as we understand the process more, it seems like this impacts the helper cells and not the neurons directly, he said. And as the helper cells recover, the sense of taste and smell recover too.

People may ask if they can do anything to get it back and re-sensitization with aromatherapy is one way that could potentially work, but there is no clear proof that anything works right now, said Dr. Sanghavi.

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Woman Suffers From Brain Fog Cardiac Issues Long After Covid

MONROE, La. – Some people are reporting still having symptoms even months after having COVID-19.

Eumekia Williams, a mammogram tech at Ochsner LSU Health Monroe Medical Center, never thought shed be a patient at her own place of employment. Everything changed in March of 2021 when she got COVID.

I had tested positive. Um, I made it back here at Ochsner Monroe by 2 oclock in the afternoon, and by midnight, I was on the ventilator, Williams.

Williams was on a ventilator for 17 days, which paralyzed her vocal cords leaving her unable to talk. She also couldnt walk when she left the hospital. Following rehab, she regained her voice and learned to walk again but still feels the effects of the virus.

I have like memory fog, sometimes stuff that Ive done in the past, I dont remember doing it. Like, Ill be talking to my husband and hell be like, You remember doing this? We did that. And Im like, no, she said.

Dr. Suraj Jande from Ochsner LSU Shreveport says doctors are still learning about the long-term effects but confirms the symptoms meaning anything over a month can include a case like Williams.

We are seeing a lot of neurological signs of people who report brain fog or haziness, there are cardiac complications as you mentioned with heart problems, said Jande.

Wiliams struggles with cardiac issues as well. Now she has a high heart rate at times.

Doctors say time and research are needed to know the full impact of COVID-19.

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Dr. Fauci Warns These COVID Symptoms Can Last for Months

The reason behind the different long-term symptoms between two individuals are manifold, said Dr. Sanghavi. First and foremost, the exposure duration and the viral load you are exposed to is a determinant of the initial illness.

After the virus entry, there are multiple patient-related factors which are nonmodifiable and determine the severity of the disease, he added. This includes past medical history, body habits and age of the person.

The final determinant of the disease is how a patients immune and inflammatory cascade would respond to the virus, said Dr. Sanghavi. As the criteria to develop COVID-19 and the initial severity of the disease are unique, different patients will be experiencing different long-term symptoms.

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The Next Health Crisis

Schultz is hopeful that many people experiencing persistent cognitive issues from COVID-19 will eventually improve. Many stroke and traumatic brain injury patients experience spontaneous recovery, in which the brain heals itself within three to six months.

But others worry that cognitive issues caused by COVID-19 may lead to dementia. At the Alzheimers Association International Conference in July, scientists presented research showing that hospitalized COVID-19 patients had similar blood biomarkers, neurodegeneration, and inflammation to those with Alzheimers disease. The research has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, cautions that the findings dont necessarily mean someone who gets COVID-19 is more likely to develop Alzheimers or another type of dementia. Were still trying to understand those associations, she says.

For now, there are no specific treatments for COVID-related brain fog, memory loss, and other cognitive effects. Instead, doctors are using cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, or speech-language pathology to treat symptoms. Many studies, like the NIH one, are trying to understand the underlying mechanisms of cognitive dysfunction in long COVID patients in hopes of identifying potential treatments.

We and others are collecting anecdotal data from patients on what has helped them, but we are far from definitive therapeutics, Frontera says.

No One Knows How Many People Are Affected

As with much regarding COVID-19, a disease that emerged only a year ago, the prevalence of brain fog as a long-hauler symptom is not currently known.

French researchers queried 120 patients a month after they were released from the hospital for COVID-19 complications. Some 34 percent reported continued memory loss and 28 percent said they had problems concentrating. The study was published by the Journal of Infection in August 2020.

Brain fog is now listed as a reported long-term symptom by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , albeit a less common one than fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint aches, or chest pain.

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Symptoms Can Last Weeks Or Even Months

Long COVID symptoms can include brain fog, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Anyone who has had COVID-19 can get Long COVID, regardless of age or prior health conditions.

While most people with COVID-19 recover completely, thousands of people who survived COVID-19 are still struggling to return to their baseline even months later. As a result, the National Institutes of Health is funding research to study the longer term health effects of COVID-19, including the condition known as Long COVID.

Even Mild Cases Can Cause Covid

COVID-19 long-haulers frustrated, scared by brain fog

    When COVID-19 patients started inundating New York City hospitals in March, Columbia neurologists were ready, thanks to some advanced preparation.

    When we saw what was happening in China and Italy, we figured we were next. We love New York because it is a dense, global hub, but that was also its Achilles heel, says Anna Nordvig, MD, a neurologist and postdoctoral clinical and research fellow at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons who specializes in cognition and behavior.

    Nordvig quickly organized a group of Columbia neurologists to review what was known about the neurological effects of other coronaviruses to get an idea of what might be coming their way, while the Department of Neurology at VP& S and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital overhauled itself to serve the expected influx of patients.

    The review also alerted the neurologists to watch out for lingering neurological and psychiatric issues in all patients, including those whose symptoms were mild and never required medical attention.

    CUIMC News spoke with Nordvig about the patients she is now seeing in the Memory Clinic in the Department of Neurology.

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    What Does This Mean

    The study results dont come as news to Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Mukamal and his colleagues reported similar findings in 2001. His team studied 3,376 men and women who were enrolled in the Cardiovascular Heart Study and who had also undergone MRI scans and had reported their alcohol consumption. The Harvard researchers also found that brain volume shrank in proportion to alcohol consumed, and that atrophy was greater even in light and moderate drinkers than in teetotalers.

    Yet the meaning of the MRI scans is still far from clear, Dr. Mukamal says. Theres a great deal of doubt about whether the atrophy seen on MRI is due to loss of brain cells or to fluid shifts within the brain. He explains that this type of atrophy shows major improvements within weeks when alcoholics stop drinking, which wouldnt be the case if it were caused by brain cell death. The study offers little indication of whether moderate drinking is truly good, bad, or indifferent for long-term brain health, he says.

    New Or Ongoing Symptoms

    Some people experience a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Unlike some of the other types of post-COVID conditions that tend only to occur in people who have had severe illness, these symptoms can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if the illness was mild, or if they had no initial symptoms. People commonly report experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Tiredness or fatigue
    • Change in smell or taste
    • Changes in menstrual period cycles

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    Does Getting A Covid

    What is exciting is that there are anecdotal reports that for these initially asymptomatic patients who tested positive and develop long COVID symptoms, after they got the vaccine, their symptoms went away, said Dr. Sanghavi. So that gives us a glimmer of hope and is why it’s imperative that anybody who’s eligible should take the vaccine.

    You may see less COVID-19 around you, but it’s still there, so I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated, he said. It doesn’t matter which vaccine you get, but what we have seen is that all three vaccines protect against severe disease and hospitalization.

    Get vaccinated and until the pandemic is over, we should continue doing our personal hygiene hand-washing and wearing masks to protect ourselves and the broader population in general, said Dr. Sanghavi.

    Discover what doctors wish patients knew about COVID-19 vaccination.

    The AMA has developed aCOVID-19 resource centeras well as aphysicians guide to COVID-19to give doctors a comprehensive place to find the latest resources and updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention andtheWorld Health Organization.

    Why The Brain May Fog

    Dr. Fauci Warns " We

    The reasons for brain fog are not yet clear.

    Spudich believes the most likely cause relates to inflammation created by the bodys immune response rather than to the virus itself. She says an overactive immune response is similarly thought to be responsible for other symptoms of COVID-19, including the breathing problems that often land patients in the hospital.

    Spudich points to HIV/AIDS as another condition in which an out-of-control immune system inflames the brain, leading to mental lapses.

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    Shortness Of Breath Fatigue Sleep Problems

    The most commonly occurring symptoms were shortness of breath, fatigue, exhaustion and sleep problems. The numbers are very shocking, especially for fatigue and shortness of breath, Nasserie said. These were pretty debilitating symptoms, with some people reporting difficulty walking up a flight of stairs. About 40% of patients said they experienced fatigue, 36% said they experienced shortness of breath and 29% said they experienced sleep disorders. Depression and anxiety, along with general pain and discomfort, were also relatively common: About 20% of patients described these symptoms. An inability to concentrate, commonly referred to as brain fog, was mentioned by about 25% of patients.As an epidemiologist who studies patterns of disease, Goodman said he became increasingly concerned about the lingering effects of COVID-19 in early fall 2020 as news reports emerged of patients calling themselves long haulers and reporting a variety of unusual symptoms after recovering from the acute phase of the illness.Early on, we completely ignored the long-term consequences of getting sick with this virus, Goodman said. People were being told this was all in their heads. The question now isnt is this real, but how big is the problem.Reference:Nasserie T, Hittle M, Goodman SN. Assessment of the Frequency and Variety of Persistent Symptoms Among Patients With COVID-19: A Systematic Review. JAMA Network Open. 2021 4:e2111417-e2111417. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.11417

    Who Is At Risk Of Developing Brain Fog

    Sarah A. Kremen, MD

    Scientists don’t yet know who is likely to suffer from post-COVID-19 brain fog. However, there may be a link between the condition and anosmia during active infection.

    “A virus can enter the nasal passages where it can then access nerves that lead into the brain. When these neurons are affected, the resulting conditionfrom coronavirus or any other virusis anosmia,” says Dr. Sarah A. Kremen, director of the Neurobehavior Program at the Jona Goldrich Center for Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders. “Once the virus that causes COVID-19 reaches the olfactory bulb, it can travel long the olfactory pathways to other places in the brain.

    While early studies don’t show any correlation between severity of disease and long-hauler symptoms such as brain fog, it makes sense that a brain starving for oxygen is likely to become compromised. Everything from poor heart and lung function to the social isolation caused by COVID-19 can affect cognitive processes. Treatments for COVID-19, including sedation, intubation and various medications, may also come with cognitive side effects.

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    “But plenty of patients get COVID-19, recover well and then a month or two later develop cognitive symptoms, such as slow thinking, difficulty concentrating and fatigue,” says Dr. Kremen. So, even patients who had mild disease and recovered seamlessly may still develop post-COVID-19 brain fog.

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    What Causes Covid Brain Fog

    Generally, when an illness leads to brain fog, itâs thought that the virus is getting into the brain and triggering an inflammatory response, explains Dr. David Nauen, M.D., PhD, a neuropathologist at Johns Hopkins University. âThis immune response can cause damage to the brain tissue,â causing brain fog.

    But researchers have been puzzled by COVID brain fog in that they hadnât been able to find visible inflammation in brain tissue samples from people who died of COVID. A study published in February, spearheaded by Dr. Nauen, suggests that some unusual cellular movements might explain why COVID patients get brain fog.

    After examining samples, the research team found unusual cells present in the capillaries, or the vessels that bring oxygen to the brain. Nauen realized that these cells looked a lot like large, megakaryocytes that normally live in bone marrow, and wouldnât be present in a blood vessel. âIt looked like if you took a small pipe and then stuffed a football in there,â says Nauen. âYou could see how water wouldnât flow through a pipe in that situation.â

    Symptoms Of Long Covid

    Mayo Clinic Q& A podcast: “Brain fog” is a lingering condition for many COVID-19 long-haulers

    There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection.

    Common long COVID symptoms include:

    • extreme tiredness
    • problems with memory and concentration
    • difficulty sleeping
    • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
    • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
    • rashes

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    Is Help Available For Post

    A treatment plan for post-COVID brain fog may employ various strategies to help patients manage day-to-day life, including:

    • Using a calendar, note-taking, or to-do lists to assist with memory
    • Using word associations to help with finding the right words
    • Minimizing distractions to improve attention
    • Building up cognitive endurance to reduce cognitive fatigue and improve concentration

    Over time, as the patient recovers, they will need to rely on these strategies less and less, says Soriano.

    Dr. Fleming also says that the damage to the brain caused by COVID is more diffuse than with stroke or other types of brain injury, so it requires specialized treatment.

    For example, increasing physical activity can have many beneficial effects, such as oxygenating and clearing toxins from the body. However, after COVID-19, some patients can experience a condition called post-exertional malaise, which results in a huge drop in energy levels after activity.

    We are all learning more about the long-term effects of COVID-19 as time passes. Oftentimes, patients who come to see us have already been to a primary care physician and other specialists who didnt know how to help, says Dr. Fleming. We validate their concerns and develop a customized treatment program using strategies that we know work with other patients recovering from brain injury.

    What Are The Most Common Long

    Long-term COVIDor post-acute COVIDaffects a multitude of organ systems, said Dr. Sanghavi. Starting from head to toe, it leaves behind multiple symptoms in a large proportion of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

    From the neuropsychiatric perspective, you have patients with brain fog or cognitive impairment, he said, adding that there are also patients with fatigue, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and headaches.

    Then, from a lung perspective, patients have persistence of shortness of breath, or dyspnea, and require ongoing oxygen treatment even after discharge and for weeks to months because of permanent damage to the lungs, said Dr. Sanghavi. As far as the cardiac system is concerned, theres chest pain and shortness of breath.

    Additionally, patients can experience persistent kidney dysfunction as well as newly diagnosed diabetes or worsened control of diabetes.

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