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Long Covid: Significant evidence the virus can lead to brain-related neurological problems

Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children

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Research now suggests that there is significant evidence that long Covid is connected to brain-related neurological and psychiatric conditions, according to data obtained from Mater Hospital in Dublin. The study, which involved 155 patients over a 14-month period, found that almost a fifth had moderate to severe depression one year after catching Covid. Meanwhile, almost three-quarters of participants were using alcohol to a “concerning degree”.

Moreover, psychological and psychiatric conditions were much more widespread in long Covid patients than in the wider public.

The mental health conditions included: anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Such data was collated in the Mater Hospital’s long Covid clinic in partnership with North Dublin GPs.

Professor Jack Lambert, the lead researcher, noted that “the long-term problems our patients are facing are neurological and neuropsychiatric”.

He added: “They had all these brain-related symptoms and neuro-psych-related symptoms.”

The professor continued: “I see nurses that have never missed a day of work in their life, two years down the way now, and they’re still not back to work.

“They got Covid on the battlefield and we have not provided them with the support they need to get back to work. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Professor Lambert noted that “the virus goes to the brain as well as the heart and lungs”.

He elaborated: “And that’s the part that’s not healing in some of the patients with long Covid. That’s really an important message.”

A considerable amount of patients were also presenting with brain fog more than 12 months after initial infection.

The hypothesis stands that brain inflammation caused by Covid is triggering both the psychiatric conditions and the neurological symptoms.

“They’re all related,” continued Professor Lambert, who added that a pilot study conducted at Mater Hospital is showing some positive results.

Treatment with low-dose naltrexone, which decreases brain inflammation, appears to speed up recovery from long Covid.

Further research is looking into the possible benefits of vitamin supplementation, including co-enzyme Q10, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and vitamin D.

Long Covid symptoms

The NHS stated: “The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get COVID-19.”

Common long Covid symptoms include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles
  • Joint pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus, earaches
  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • A high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • Rashes.

If you have been experiencing symptoms of long Covid for four weeks or more, it might be worthwhile booking a doctor’s appointment.

To rule out other health conditions, your doctor may check your blood pressure and heart rate, a blood test might be ordered, and a chest X-ray.

“Your doctor will talk to you about the care and support you might need,” the NHS noted.

“You may be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home.”

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