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  • Writer's pictureAparna Atluru MD

How COVID Affects the Brain

As Covid’s second wave takes hold over many parts of the U.S. many researchers are starting to develop a deeper understanding of how COVID affects individual organ systems. There have been many stories about how COVID affects the pulmonary system but not as much about the effects of COVID on one very important organ, the brain!

Many researchers are starting to acknowledge that some of those who have had COVID, and recovered, may continue to have persistent issues with their brain and central nervous system.

The most common neuropsychiatric symptoms of Covid-19 include confusion, loss of consciousness, headaches, and changes in behavior, and changes in attention/concentration.

There are three main ways COVID affects the brain:

1) Wide Spread Inflammation:

The immune system in some COVID patients tends to go into “overdrive” causing widespread inflammation that leads to tissue and organ damage.

2) Physiological Changes causing brain dysfunction

Researchers at Texas A& M have found that it is likely that the novel coronavirus likely replicates inside cells and affects how they function — and they have found the Virus’ RNA from coronavirus in some patients’ cerebrospinal fluid!

3) Blood clotting abnormalities

COVID has been found to cause blood clotting abnormalities in patients, making blood clots much more likely to occur in COVID patients than in healthy individuals. When these clots block arteries leading to the brain Strokes can occur. There have been reports of COVID

patients in their 30s and 40s experiencing strokes as a result.

Though notable brain effects such as the above have only been pronounced in some patients, the long-term effects won’t be understood for years or decades to come.

In order to prevent COVID transmission it’s important to follow at least the basic guidelines: wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, wear a mask and stay away from elderly or immunocompromised populations if possible.


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