The link between “brain fog” and long-term COVID

According to a preliminary investigation published Open JAMA Network.

Researchers at UCLA conducted a prospective cohort study of 766 patients with COVID-19 to describe the characteristics of patients with cognitive impairment in the first 4 weeks after infection with COVID-19 and the relationship between these deficits and prolonged COVID. Patients were included in the study between April 2020 and February 2021 after laboratory-confirmed infection with Covid-19.

The study authors said such neuropsychiatric symptoms are common in acute COVID-19 and prolonged COVID, but the link between these deficits (so-called “brain fog”) and prolonged COVID is currently unknown. Brain fog has also affected all age groups, the study authors added, and neurocognitive symptoms can include memory problems, difficulty concentrating, concentration problems and PTSD.

Participants were administered questionnaires administered by nurses 30, 60, and 90 days after hospital discharge (or, in the case of non-hospitalized patients, from the date of the first positive COVID-19 test). ). The questionnaire asked participants whether they felt their health had returned to normal, whether they could perform vigorous activities (e.g. running), moderate activities (e.g. moving a table, climbing stairs, etc.) and bathing and dressing independently.

The study authors noted that patients were also asked about symptoms during the previous 4 weeks, such as: fever, chills, or night sweats; loss of smell or taste; fatigue; lack of breath; chest pain; numbness or tingling; nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; muscle pain; and rashes.

Finally, the questionnaire asked participants whether they had difficulty organizing things, difficulty concentrating on activities such as television or reading a book, and whether they forgot what they talked about during a telephone conversation during the past 4 weeks. Participants could answer “never”, “rarely”, “sometimes”, “often” and “almost always”.

At baseline, the researchers observed that 23.5% of participants reported being able to perform vigorous activities, and 48% reported being able to perform moderate activities.

In addition, 64% of participants reported no cognitive impairment in 3 items of the questionnaire. About a third of patients reported having trouble organizing things, a third reported trouble concentrating on activities, and a quarter reported forgetting what they had talked about during a phone conversation. The most common symptoms of acute COVID-19 during this time were fatigue, shortness of breath and muscle pain, the study authors noted.

In long-term COVID patients, the study authors found that patients who reported cognitive impairment were more likely to report long-term COVID symptoms at 60 and 90 days compared to those without perceived cognitive impairment. 233 patients reported persistent COVID symptoms at 60 and 90 days, and half of them reported cognitive deficits at 30 days. In comparison, of the 543 patients who reported no persistent symptoms of COVID at 60 or 90 days, only 29% reported cognitive deficits at the 30-day survey.

“In a longitudinal cohort study of patients with COVID-19 in 1 healthcare system, we found an association between perceived cognitive deficits early in the course of the disease and prolonged COVID, suggesting a direction for investigating the basis of prolonged COVID,” study authors. concluded.

For more on COVID-19 and brain fog, see a previous post from Infection: “Covid-19 infection worsens dementia.”

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