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Covid-19 affects the nervous system and causes neurological complications: Study

Published on:1 June 2020, 10:27am IST
Not just sore throat and fever, this study on neurological symptoms of covid-19 states that headaches and loss of smell and taste are indicators of the infection.
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Don’t ignore headaches as they could be a neurological symptom of covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Sore throat, mild fever, and fatigue are considered to be the most common symptoms of covid-19. But guess what? Latest research indicates that headaches, loss of sense of smell and taste, and seizures can also be symptoms—rather, neurological symptoms—of covid-19.

The review research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says that  SARS-CoV-2 patients have been complaining of headache, stroke, and impairment of consciousness.

Neurological complications of covid-19
According to researchers, this virus hits the central nervous system of the body. The Yale School of Medicine in the US suggests that while the respiratory symptoms of covid-19 are described, the neurological complications of the novel coronavirus infection are not well known.

A few weeks ago, a research by the British Rhinological Society, a British group that represents ear, nose and throat doctors, had suggested that covid-19 can lead to a loss of smell and taste.

Citing an earlier research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers of this study claim that the neurological symptoms reported in 49 of the study’s 58 patients, included confusion and brain damage or encephalopathy.

According to researchers, covid-19 impacts white blood cells in our body too
Based on studies of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-1, the scientists said the novel coronavirus may enter the nervous system by several routes, including via junctions of infected neurons and via the olfactory nerves connecting the nose and the brain, involved in producing the sense of smell.

Chills and tremors are also symptoms of covid-19 according to the CDC. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

According to the researchers this virus spreads in our body by impacting the inner walls of the blood vessels. And these blood vessels also reach our brain by infecting immune cells called leukocytes, which can cross the protective filter membrane called the blood-brain barrier. This “Trojan horse” mechanism of infecting the brain is seen in HIV, the scientists said.

Sadly, the common neurological complaints received in covid-19 are the loss of sense of smell and taste (anosmia and ageusia), headache, stroke, impairment of consciousness, seizure, and brain damage which at times look very common.

Having said that, the scientific community is looking for more evidence to verify these symptoms of covid-19. More brain scans and testing is being done that will help in a better understanding of the neurological symptoms of coronavirus.

“Early detection of neurological deficits may lead to improved clinical outcomes and better treatment algorithms,” the scientists wrote in the study.

(With inputs from PTI)

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