SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19’s Neurological Consequences
Effects on the brain of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 that are immediate
People infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus have mild to severe neurological symptoms. However, brain and nerve system symptoms such as muscular pains, headaches, disorientation, and altered sense of taste and smell are the most prevalent among those hospitalized due to the infection. Delirium, a condition of extreme confusion, may be present in some patients with COVID-19 when their admission to the hospital.
COVID-19 may induce seizures or massive strokes; however, these side effects are uncommon. Patients in critical care for infections often have muscle weakness, nerve damage, and pain syndromes. The SARS-CoV-2 infection may also lead to various problems, as is the case with other forms of viruses. Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, and acute necrotizing leukoencephalopathy are all examples of inflammation-related neurological illnesses, which affect brainpower.
Bleeding in the brain, blood vessels, and clots
Some of the brain’s arteries and veins thin down, weaken, and leak due to the illness. COVID-19 infection has been linked to microbleeds in the brain in a limited number of patients.
In the brains of persons who have died due to COVID-19 infection, leaky blood valves enable water and a wide variety of other substances, including blood cells, to enter the brain. Multiple tiny regions of harm may be caused by this leak and the associated inflammation surrounding blood vessels.
It also causes blood cells to stick together, which results in clots developing in various parts of the body. A stroke or heart attack may occur due to a reduction or obstruction of the passage of vital nutrients, oxygen, and blood to the cells.
Other organs of the body may also be affected by COVID-19-induced blood clots
For example, a heart attack may be triggered by a blood clot in or around the heart. Cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), may induce heart failure and restrict blood flow to other body regions. Breathing becomes difficult and painful when a blood clot forms in the lungs. In addition, blood clots may cause kidney and further organ damage.
Some other damages could be:
- Anxiety, depression, and stress post-COVID
- Cognitive impairment/altered mental state
- Fatigue and post-exertional malaise
- Muscle, joint, and chest pain
- Nerve damage, including peripheral neuropathy
- Persistent fevers and chills
- Prolonged respiratory effects and lung damage
- Prolonged/lingering loss of smell or taste
- Sleep disturbances
Other Neurological Disorders
Coronavirus-induced immune response has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and dementia in specific individuals and muscle and nerve injury, meningitis, and vascular disease.
- Multi-system inflammatory syndrome – which causes inflammation in the blood vessels.
- Transverse myelitis – an inflammation of the spinal cord.
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (sometimes known as acute polyradiculoneuritis) – is a rare neurological disorder that can range from brief weakness to nearly devastating paralysis, leaving the person unable to breathe independently.
- Dysautonomia-dysfunction of the autonomic nerve system, which is involved with functions such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control.
- Acute disseminating encephalomyelitis (ADEM) – an attack on the protective myelin covering of nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.
- Acute necrotizing hemorrhagic encephalopathy – is a rare type of brain disease that causes lesions in certain parts of the brain and bleeding (hemorrhage) that can cause tissue death (necrosis).
- Facial nerve palsies (lack of facial nerve function) such as Bell’s palsy.
- Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms have been reported in a few individuals who had no family history of early signs of the disease.