COVID-19 Patients Appear With Unusual Brain Problems

COVID-19 Patients Appear With Unusual Brain Problems

The effects of COVID-19 potentially could significantly damage other parts of the body aside from the lungs. Doctors from several countries have been reporting patients who showed serious problems in the brain after contracting the coronavirus.

Neurological symptoms like confusion, stroke and seizures appeared in some patients in Austria, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and the U.S. It increases the list of unusual symptoms of COVID-19, which includes poor sense of smell and taste, the New York Times reported.

Doctors reported that there were patients who went to the hospital with altered mental status or encephalopathy. They appeared dazed, exhibited strange behavior or stared off into space.

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Some people who tested positive for coronavirus even showed neurological problems before having a fever or difficulty in breathing, which are the most common symptoms of COVID-19, according to Dr. Alessandro Padovani, who works at a hospital at University of Brescia in Italy.

Doctors reported similar cases in the U.S. In early March, a 74-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19 lost his ability to speak. He also had a seizure while at the hospital in Boca Raton, Fla.

A few weeks later, another case of brain problems linked to effects of COVID-19 was reported in Detroit. Doctors said that a female patient in her late 50s had abnormal swelling and inflammation in some regions of her brain when she contracted the coronavirus.

a group of people sitting at a table: Iranian women, members of paramilitary organisation Basij, make face masks and other protective items at a mosque in the capital Tehran, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis on April 5, 2020.

The woman went to the emergency room confused and became less responsive over time. Tests showed some cells in her brain died and she had acute necrotizing encephalopathy, a complication associated with influenza and other viral infections.

“The pattern of involvement, and the way that it rapidly progressed over days, is consistent with viral inflammation of the brain,” Elissa Fory, a neurologist with Henry Ford Health System, told the New York Times. “This may indicate the virus can invade the brain directly in rare circumstances.”

Neurological symptoms also occurred in initial COVID-19 patients in China. One study, recently published in the British Medical Journal, shows that 22 percent of patients from Wuhan who died from the disease experienced disorders of consciousness, such as somnolence and deep coma.

Health experts hope to see more studies focused on the unusual symptoms of COVID-19.

“We absolutely need to have an information finding mission, otherwise we’re flying blind,” Dr. Sherry H-Y. Chou, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said. “There’s no ventilator for the brain. If the lungs are broken we can put the patient on a ventilator and hope for recovery. We don’t have that luxury with the brain.”

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