Memory and concentration problems haunt 7 in 10 patients with long COVID, a pair of new studies indicate.
The findings suggest that COVID-19 has a notable impact on brain health, even if the precise underlying mechanisms remain unclear, British researchers said.
Dr. Colin Franz is a physician-scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. He agreed that the research is still murky when it comes to pinpointing the cause of these thinking problems.
"We don't know for sure what causes these issues with brain function and health from long COVID," said Franz, who wasn't involved with the studies.
Colin Franz MD, PhDPhysician-Scientist Board Certifications: Neuromuscular Medicine, Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and Physiatry
"The reasons may vary from person to person," he said. "For example, one person may have poor sleep and breathing difficulties that lead to chronic fatigue and indirectly affect brain health and function. In other people, there may be persistent levels of inflammation in the body."
Still, Franz said long COVID patients should "stay hopeful."
"Look for a comprehensive post-COVID clinic in your community, which can connect you with a multitude of clinicians who can help address all lingering impairments of COVID in a more holistic fashion," he advised. "For example, some people need to see a cardiologist or pulmonologist for breathing treatments, others a rheumatologist or physiatrist for painful joints.
"Most of our patients improve with a structured approach, yet the improvements are gradual," Franz said. "You don't have to struggle through this by yourself."
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