‘Brain fog’ – the medical Covid-19 sequelae cannot be explained – VnExpress

After contracting Covid-19, Ms. Lien, 44, struggled with vocabulary, often had difficulty finding the right words or calling the wrong name of objects, such as calling “scissors” and mistaken for “knife”.

Not long after recovering from Covid-19, Ms. Lien often had headaches, insomnia, confusion, memory loss because she couldn’t remember names and places to put common items, sometimes she even forgot what she used to do. forgot a relative’s name. When I read a book, there are parts where I don’t understand what I’m reading. After that, she began to find it difficult to communicate when she couldn’t express what she wanted, and daily cooking also became more time-consuming when she couldn’t concentrate like before.

Her mood also changed, often depressed or nervous, worried, palpitations. She is also more easily irritated when her memory loss disrupts her daily life. “I feel like an old person,” she told the doctor.

Doctor Nguyen Huy Hoang (specialist in the treatment of disorders of the autonomic nervous system, Vietnam – Russia Hyperbaric Oxygen Center, Ministry of National Defense), directly consulting on the treatment of this case, said that the patient had a phenomenon ” “brain fog”, one of the post-Covid-19 sequelae. “Brain fog” is a term for symptoms related to cerebral ischemia and disorders of the autonomic nervous system, affecting thinking and memory, sufferers may feel lack of clarity, difficulty exercising. In average, it takes longer to remember someone’s name or often suddenly forgets what I intend to do…

Dr. Hoang is also treating Ms. Nhung, 67 years old, with a background of high blood pressure, who also has a “brain fog” sequelae. After recovering from Covid-19, she tried to do housework, but her body was sore and tired for a long time. In many conversations, she often had to stop because she didn’t know how to continue and kept repeating what she said. Patients often put things in strange places, lose them and can’t find them back.

On average, a day, Doctor Hoang receives 50-60 calls related to Covid-19, of which 15-20% are people with “brain fog” sequelae. This phenomenon occurs in both the elderly and young people, severe and mild patients, often appearing while being infected with Covid-19 or a few days after recovering from the disease.

A doctor treats and takes care of patients at the Covid-19 Resuscitation Center at Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital (Thu Duc City), September 2021. Photo: Quynh Tran

“Brain fog” in general is still a mystery to the medical world because the symptoms are so varied. Post-Covid-19 “brain fog” seems to be common in middle-aged patients with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Dr. Hoang said, in addition to common symptoms such as decreased concentration, decreased alertness at work, impaired memory, etc., the disease is related to many symptoms of the whole body, not just one part of the body. such as heart palpitations, palpitations, sometimes shortness of breath, spasms, tremors in the limbs… Some symptoms of “brain fog” such as heaviness in the head, dizziness, dizziness, insomnia, confusion Psychological disorders, sensory disturbances, movement disorders such as finger tremors…

The cause of the “brain fog” may be related to the invasion of tissues and neurons by the virus and the pervasive inflammation (including the nervous system) as a result of Covid. “Brain fog” is also thought to be caused by patients suffering from anxiety and stress, leading to poor sleep, thinking a lot, affecting mood and behavior. In addition, when infected, blood vessels, especially small blood vessels, are damaged after Covid-19, causing poor blood circulation to the brain, thereby leading to autonomic neuropathy. cerebral circulatory insufficiency, which aggravates the condition of “brain fog”.

In severe patients, the lack of oxygen will affect brain tissues, leaving sequelae “brain fog”. Besides, other causes may be due to side effects of sedative drugs, drugs in emergency resuscitation treatment for critically ill patients.

Some studies around the world suggest that after Covid-19 infection, people’s immune responses are still persistently activated, which can cause inflammation in blood vessels or cells. The released inflammatory molecules become toxic, especially to the brain, causing “brain fog”. Another theory put forward is an autoimmune condition, when antibodies mistakenly attack nerve cells. Symptoms such as numbness and tingling in the limbs can occur when damaged nerves send wrong signals to the brain. Some people with “brain fog” still have cardiopulmonary problems, exacerbating neurological symptoms.

The “brain fog” should gradually improve over several months, but it can also recur in the presence of excessive stimuli or stress. Patients should increase the amount of gentle exercise to help clear the mind, play games such as word puzzles or listen to music to stimulate the mind to work, eat foods rich in Omega-3 and rich in antioxidants. to reduce “brain fog”. Hoang recommends that people experiencing “brain fog” need to see a doctor soon to rule out other diseases and treat neurological problems. The most effective way to limit the effects of Covid-19 is still to get vaccinated and follow epidemic prevention recommendations.

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Thuy Quynh