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Long Covid: Neurological symptoms can last for more than a year

Some people continue to experience symptoms, including brain fog and fatigue, more than a year after contracting Covid

People who contract Covid can still experience debilitating neurological effects more than a year after they were initially infected, new research shows.

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It follows on from a shorter-term study published last spring that focused on 100 long-Covid patients and found that 85% of patients reported at least four persistent neurological problems at least six weeks after their acute infections.

This new study, published on Tuesday (May 24), is the first to look at neurological symptoms over a long period of time in patients who did not require hospitalization for Covid.

Symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue can persist for more than a year after infection (Composite: Mark Hall/NationalWorld)

The researchers further interviewed 52 of the original participants, who were seen at a Northwestern neuro-Covid clinic for 18 months between May 2020 and November 2020.

Three quarters (75%) of the patients were female, the mean age of the cohort was 43 years and almost 80% of the participants were vaccinated.

Which Covid symptoms can last longer than a year?

The study found that patients continued to have neurological symptoms more than a year after they were first contracted by Covid.

The most commonly reported symptoms, which have been found to last an average of 15 months after initial infection, include:

  • brain fog
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • numbness/tingling
  • Blurred vision
  • tinnitus

Other symptoms, including fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems were also found to increase over time. In comparison, the loss or change in the sense of taste or smell tended to improve.

The researchers said that vaccination against Covid did not relieve symptoms, but neither did Covid worsen for long.

Most patients reported improvements in their cognitive function and fatigue over time, but the symptoms had not completely resolved and were still affecting their quality of life.

dr Igor Koralnik, co-leader of the study and chief of the Division of Neuroinfectious Diseases and Global Neurology at Northwestern Medicine, said, “Many of these patients still have cognitive difficulties that prevent them from functioning as they once did.”

What Causes Long Covid?

dr Avindra Nath, the clinical director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, who was not involved in the new research, said long-lasting Covid symptoms could be the result of damage from the body’s inflammatory response to virs.

A viral infection activates inflammatory cells in the body, including in the brain, and that inflammation is designed to attack the invading virus. However, it can also damage brain cells and neurons, and according to Dr. Nath a particularly strong inflammatory reaction.

He said: “Covid is probably the most severe respiratory illness we’ve ever had, so it’s not surprising that we’re seeing long-term effects from it.”

What support is there for long-term Covid sufferers?

Anyone experiencing persistent symptoms four weeks or more after contracting Covid is encouraged to seek advice from a GP.

A doctor may recommend some tests to find out more about the symptoms and rule out other factors that might be causing them. This may include a blood test, checking your blood pressure and heart rate, or a chest X-ray.

You may be given advice on how to treat and monitor symptoms at home, but if the effects are disruptive to your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specializes in your specific symptoms.

https://www.nationalworld.com/health/coronavirus/long-covid-neurological-symptoms-study-3709937 Long Covid: Neurological symptoms can last for more than a year

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