Neurological side-effects due to COVID? Here’s what you need to know!

Brain fog or Hazy memory was not one of the common side-effects of any disease or viral attacks previously. Scientists have now discovered that brain fog or hazy memory is the neurological side effect of the novel coronavirus. Once, the side effects were limited to infections in the upper respiratory system, but a further dig in the study of coronavirus has revealed the neurological side effects. 

According to data 1 in 7 people who had been affected by coronavirus have got this neurological side effect. If a person comes in contact with the novel coronavirus, this brain fog or hazy memory could be a long-termed condition. Brain fog simply means an unclear state of mind or a lack of sharp memory. This condition starts showing up a few days after coming in contact with the coronavirus. The severity depends on person to person. Some people might experience mild memory loss, fatigue, etc. In the worst-case scenario, people experience headaches, confusion, depression, and inability to focus. The virus does not directly affect the brain cells or nerves but may cause strokes or seizures in rare cases.

The experts are still in the process of decoding the exact reasons why COVID-19 affects the human brain, but there are several theories to this.

Overwhelmed immune system:

Once the immune system encounters the coronavirus, it becomes overactive in fighting against it and causes inflammation. This causes damage to the tissues and organs.

Severe infection:

In rare cases where there’s a severe infection, the virus may enter the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). As a piece of evidence to this researchers have found the genetic material of coronavirus in the spinal fluid.

Changes in the body:

Studies have revealed that physical changes in the body like high fevers, organ failures can increase the risk of neurological complications. In a long term, it can also lead to conditions like coma or delirium.

Post-covid, in addition to focussing on physical healing, equal importance should be given to mental/brain healing for overall recovery. A few activities can be done to build neurological heal and to reduce the effect due to COVID.

Aerobic exercise:

Performing aerobic exercise can contribute to brain health largely. Start slowly from two to three minutes, a few times in a day, and rise it to 30 minutes on a whole.

Quality sleep:

The brain and body clear out toxins and heals themselves during sleep. Give your body the sleep it needs, as sleep and health are connected. Fix yourself a sleep schedule of eight hours and follow it even on the weekends. A night of quality sleep can improve memory, mood, and thinking capacity.

Engage in brain-challenging activities:

We exercise to strengthen every muscle of our body. Likewise engaging in brain-stimulating activities strengthen and rewires brain cells and increases concentration levels.

Meditate: 

Practicing meditation can relax the brain and body. It helps in increasing the concentration levels, immunity and decrease blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Eat brain-healthy foods:

Fatty fish, leafy veggies, olive oil, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains can improve both brain and body health.

Avoid alcohol:

Do not consume brain-damaging drugs or alcohol. Intake of drugs or alcohol post covid can increase the neurological side effects and also make things worse.

It is good to see a doctor if the effects did not fade away after a couple of weeks or if it becomes more severe such that it affects your daily life. Few people have reported that they have brain fog or hazy memory for a few weeks or months post-Covid once their respiratory symptoms pass.

Researchers are still struggling to decode why some people develop neurological side-effects while some do not. If you are experiencing some cognitive issues due to COVID-19, it is good to see a doctor.

By Meghasri Sivaramakrishnan

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