4 of 5 hospitalized covid-19 patients show neurological symptoms: Study

New research shows that covid-19 patients have neurological symptoms such as muscle pain, headaches, confusion, and dizziness.
neurological symptoms of covid-19
Covid has new neurological symptoms that can’t be ignored. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 6 Oct 2020, 11:11 am IST
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With rising covid cases all around the world, it is important for researchers to understand the virus better. And to do that, knowing the symptoms of the infection is absolutely crucial. Which is why the recent discovery of neurological symptoms of covid-19 is so important.

The neurological symptoms of covid-19 range from headaches, muscle pain, and dizziness to encephalopathy, “characterized by altered mental function ranging from mild confusion to coma,” says Igor Koralnik, the chief of neuro-infectious disease at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago and one of the authors of the study that brought these findings forward.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, outlined the frequency and severity of neurologic symptoms in 509 patients hospitalized for covid-19 in Chicago at the start of the pandemic.

The findings suggest that four out of 5 hospitalised covid-19 patients show some neurological symptoms. “Even people who have mild respiratory problems that don’t last long are still at risk of long-haul symptoms,” says Koralnik.

How was the study conducted?
Around 500 patients were studied. The average age for those in the study with encephalopathy was 65, compared with 55 years old for patients who didn’t have it.

Get hold of the symptoms and take precautionary measures. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, read: Catching up with coronavirus: From incubation to symptoms, here is the latest on COVID-19

Patients with brain ailments were more likely to be male and have a shorter time from disease onset to hospitalization, according to the study. Patients with the condition also tended to have a history of other disorders, including high blood pressure.

Of the 509 patients studied, 42% had neurological problems when they first became aware they were infected, 63% at the time of hospitalization, and 82% at any time during the course of the disease. The most frequent symptoms were muscle pain, headaches and encephalopathy.

Another study published in China also found that 36% of patients there had neurological symptoms, while in Spain the rate was at 57%.

This could hint at the virus’ effect on the brain
“What we’d like to know is if the virus somehow infects the brain itself or the wrapping of the brain in patients with encephalopathy,” Koralnik said.

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The next step will be to determine what triggers these neurological conditions. Koralnik said the group is continuing to study patients who are discharged from the hospital, as well as in covid-19 long-haulers, who have never been hospitalized but also suffer from a similar range of neurological problems, including brain fog.

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