Scientists Unlocking Mystery Behind COVID Effects On Brain
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Many people experience brain fog, confusion and memory problems with COVID-19. Now, scientists are unlocking the mystery behind how the virus affects the brain. A Utah man wonders if he’ll ever be the same.
Will Mosley of Saratoga Springs always had a knack for directions.
“You tell me the address, I’ll find it,” Mosley says.
Since contracting the disease, he has to rely on Google Maps to get him where he’s going.
“I don’t want to have any problems and be stuck somewhere and then panic because I don’t know where I’m at,” he says.
Mosley got a serious case of COVID in June.
“My focus seemed messed up for the first couple days after that,” says Mosley, who is 65.
He can’t remember how to get to the airport where he worked training bus drivers for decades.
“I drove it for 24 years. The cognitive stuff is so screwed up- my memory,” he says.
Research published in NATURE shows anosmia, or loss of smell, altered brain function, and stroke are the most common neurological syndromes with COVID.
The sicker you are, the higher the risk. Scientists found a “high proportion of patients admitted to intensive care units with COVID develop delirium,” according to the study.
“Direct infection to the brain is probably not what’s causing the problem,” says Dr. David Roman Renner, a neurologist at University of Utah Health.
He said it’s from inflammation from the body’s attempt to fight the virus.
“When the immune system is trying to fight off this COVID virus, spilling chemicals which should help do it, but in the process, those chemicals which can help can also hurt the nervous system,” he says.
Mosley’s memory is so bad, he had to retire early, causing him to lose some of his full retirement benefits.
Mosley also suffers from anosmia. He stands in his tidy kitchen slicing apples, a fruit he loves but can no longer taste.
“I keep hoping, though,” he says.
His wife is a pastry chef and a good cook, but he sadly can’t enjoy her creations.
“My wife makes my favorite meals – a chicken soup that’s to die for – I close my eyes and take a deep breath and hope I can taste it, and nothing,” Mosley says.
He wonders if he’ll ever heal.
“Am I going to be okay one day? Am I going to feel like I was before all this? There’s like a huge question mark in my head,” Mosley says.
Dr. Renner is optimistic, saying most people will improve over time, but not all.
“There are some individuals who do feel that their symptom improvement plateaus, and some are indeed left with longer term residual like that,” he says.
In the meantime, Mosley counts his blessings, like his large blended family.
“When you’re at your worst, you start getting really down and you start thinking about how much people care about you,” he says.
He hopes for better days ahead.
“It’s supposed to be the best years of your life, and here I am,” Mosley says.
If you’re experiencing cognitive problems associated Covid, experts say it’s best to see your doctor to rule out any other problems that could be the cause.
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