Health

“BRAIN FOG”

One mysterious, lingering symptom of COVID-19 catches the attention of top health officials & perplexes doctors, sufferers alike.

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“If you talk to a significant number of people, they will tell you that, for anywhere from weeks to months and possibly longer, that they have symptoms that are characterized by fatigue and a thing that they refer to as brain fog, which really means the difficulty concentrating.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci revealing during an interview with '60 Minutes' one of his concerns over the long-term impact of the virus that causes COVID-19.
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“It’s all related. The fact that people are losing their sense of smell, the fact that people are losing their sense of taste, and the brain fog — all this whole system is neurological.”

Stanford researcher Dr. Kari Nadeau leads an ongoing Stanford study on long-term immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Patients recovering from COVID, across age groups and gender, have described "brain fog" (a lack of mental clarity, confusion) since early in the pandemic.
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“Everything in my brain was white static … I was sitting on the edge of the bed, crying and feeling ‘something’s wrong, I should be asking for help,’ but I couldn’t remember who or what I should be asking. I forgot who I was and where I was.”

31-year-old Erica Taylor who says her "brain fog" after COVID-19 became so debilitating she was forced to take a temporary leave from her job.
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What Do We Know:

“It’s subtle, but it is very real.”

  • The “dysfunction” some have experienced usually won’t surface during a brain scan, according to neurologist Dr. Joanna Hellmuth at University of California, San Francisco.
  • Hellmuth says she sees the impact on cognitive tests, consistent with other viruses that can impact cognitive health.
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Why?

No one knows 100%.

Here’s some early thinking:

  • Brain cells *can* (though rarely) become infected with COVID-19.
  • Inflammation of the body can lead to issues including small, subtle strokes.
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood can have an impact.
  • An exhausted immune system could play a role.
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One encouraging note: Doctors and those recovering from COVID-19 say this fog can "lift" - that it's not permanent. A reminder: This week marks 9 months since the first diagnosed case of COVID-19 in America; research on the impact of COVID - both mentally and physically - remains limited.

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Read

Sources

Dr. Anthony Fauci on 60 Minutes (plus transcript): WATCH HERE

A good read with how two family members have experienced “brain fog” – READ HERE

An overview from the NY Times from October and also September