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Research suggests that COVID leads to long-term damage to cognition and memory


According to research, COVID-19 may cause long-term damage to one's cognitive abilities and memory.

Detailed study finds long-term and short-term 'brain fog'.


New research indicates that COVID-19 infection can result in persistent cognitive and memory impairment, including the presence of "brain fog" in both long and short-term patients.


The study, one of the most comprehensive attempts to analyse the effect of COVID-19 on mental sharpness, revealed that more severe cases can get better, and the threat has decreased as the coronavirus has evolved.


The reportpublished in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, indicates that individuals whose persistent symptoms had disappeared did equally well on cognitive assessments as those who had quickly recovered from the original infection.


Researchers stated that four years after the pandemic began, it is crucial to continue monitoring the lasting effects of COVID-19 on brain processes.


Paul Elliott, a senior author of the research from Imperial College London, stated that individuals with lingering symptoms after COVID-19 can anticipate a recovery in their cognitive functions to levels comparable to those with a brief illness.


The study enrolled almost 140,000 participants, covering a diverse spectrum of Covid severity and duration, including persons who were not afflicted. Participants were instructed to complete cognitive assessments online to evaluate abilities such as memory, reasoning, executive function, attention, and impulsivity. The results were adjusted for age, demography, and pre-existing medical issues.


The findings indicated that COVID-19 infection was linked to cognitive impairments, particularly affecting memory functions. Individuals experienced greater difficulty recalling images of objects they had viewed a few minutes earlier, which researchers proposed could be attributed to challenges in creating new memories rather than heightened amnesia.


They fared marginally worse than persons who had not contracted COVID-19 in tasks that assessed spatial planning and verbal reasoning.


The most significant effect was seen in patients who had been hospitalised, experienced prolonged symptoms or had been infected with previous Covid strains. The researchers stated that during shorter durations, the impact was minimal, possibly to the extent that individuals would not perceive any decline in performance.


The researchers discovered a slight cognitive benefit in individuals with two or more immunisations, whereas multiple COVID-19 infections seemed to have only a minimal extra impact.


Individuals with chronic COVID often experience a cognitive impairment known as "brain fog," which refers to persistent symptoms lasting over 12 weeks beyond the initial COVID-19 infection. Approximately 5% of individuals who get the virus are predicted to experience long-term COVID-19, posing a growing challenge to health systems.


Health professionals appreciated the study's contribution to advancing understanding of COVID-19's lingering effects. Neurologist and researcher Michael Zandi from UCL's Queen Square Institute of Neurology stated that the results indicated "concussion-like attention mechanisms as the primary impairment." He noted that the data indicating that the memory storage regions of the brain were not harmed was "reassuring."


Zandi stated that the biological reasons behind these findings are likely complex, yet to be understood, and warrant in-depth longitudinal research and treatment trials.


The article emphasised the importance of comprehending the factors that aid in recovering individuals from COVID-19, as stated by Claire Steves, a professor specialising in ageing and health, and Dr Nathan Cheethama senior postdoctoral data scientist at King's College London.


"Impairments in tasks related to memory, reasoning, and executive function hinder individuals' capacity to carry out daily activities such as work and caregiving," they stated. Therefore, it is essential for individuals living with COVID-19 to have fair accommodations from employers and to have understanding and support from family and friends.

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