You might think of the coronavirus as a respiratory illness—and you’d be right, it’s a disease that attacks your lungs. But doctors, scientists and patients are discovering the insidious COVID-19 can also infect your brain, resulting in troubling neurological symptoms in people of all ages. Read on to discover the warning signs so you can seek help when necessary, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
If you are experiencing “trouble speaking and understanding; paralysis or numbness of the face arm or leg; or sudden problems seeing,” per The Mayo Clinic, call a medical professional. Studies are showing strokes tied to COVID-19 are the result of increased clotting and even “young people without previous risk factors for stroke are experiencing…clots in the arteries of the brain,” sometimes immediately, sometimes after 10 days of infection.
If you’re experiencing the dictionary definition of delirium—”an acutely disturbed state of mind …is characterized by restlessness, illusions, and incoherence of thought and speech”—then call your doctor as it may be a sign of COVID-19. “In some cases, patients were delirious even before developing fever or respiratory illness, according to Dr. Alessandro Padovani, whose hospital at University of Brescia in Italy opened a separate NeuroCovid unit to care for patients with neurological conditions,” according to the New York Times.
A headache is one of the official COVID-19 symptoms listed by the CDC, along with fever and chills, a dry cough, shortness of breath and others. Broadway actor Danny Burstein suffered coronavirus and wrote about the trauma: “My friend described the headaches like a hammer inside his head that was trying to chip its way out. That’s an understatement.”
If you’re experiencing “temporary confusion; a staring spell; uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs; loss of consciousness or awareness; or cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety or deja vu,” as per the Mayo Clinic, call a medical professional immediately. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati reviewed neuroimaging and neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients and found nine percent of their panel suffered a seizure.
At least four percent of COVID-19 patients studied by the University of Cincinnati had dizziness. This may be caused by lower levels of oxygen reaching your brain.
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One of the CDC’s official symptoms, losing your sense of smell or taste is also a neurological condition. “Sense of smell most often diminishes by the third day of infection with the new coronavirus, and many patients also lose their sense of taste at the same time, a new study finds,” reported WebMD.
If you experience “a change in intellectual, emotional, psychological, and personality functioning, typically accompanied by behavioral changes,” as defined by ACP Hospitalist, you may have “encephalopathy,” a catch-all term for a disease that affects the brain. One real-life example: A COVID-19 patient, a female airline worker, reported the New York Times, “was confused, and complained of a headache; she could tell the physicians her name but little else, and became less responsive over time. Brain scans showed abnormal swelling and inflammation in several regions, with smaller areas where some cells had died.” As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.