As cases of Covid-19 continue to rise worldwide, some studies have reported that about a third of patients show neurological symptoms.
Judging by most of the cases, Covid-19 causes fever, sore throat, fatigue, cough; a respiratory virus that causes shortness of breath and respiratory distress in even more severe cases.
Still, as we now understand, the coronavirus has symptoms that can also infect cells outside of the respiratory tract, ranging from gastro-intestinal ailments such as diarrhea and nausea, to heart conditions and blood clotting disorders. It seems that now we will add neurological symptoms to this list..
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Coronavirus neurological symptoms
Many recent studies have revealed the presence of neurological symptoms in Covid-19 cases. It has been reported many times that Covid-19 patients suffer from Guillain-Barré syndrome. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a neurological disorder that results in muscle difficulty and eventually paralysis, when the immune system mistakenly attacks nerve cells while fighting the virus.
Other studies have identified severe symptoms such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain, swelling) and stroke in healthy young people, among other mild symptoms.
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In addition, a larger study was conducted on the prevalence of neurological disorders in Covid-19 patients in China and France. Studies have shown that 36% of patients have neurological symptoms.
Most of the symptoms were mild symptoms, such as headache and dizziness, that could be caused by a strong immune response. Symptoms such as loss of smell or taste, muscle weakness, seizures, stroke and hallucinations, which were more severe and pronounced, were also observed.
These symptoms were generally seen in severe cases, ranging from an estimated 46% to 84%. Severe cases also experienced changes in consciousness such as dysorientation (not knowing the environment), attention deficit, movement disorders, and these changes were found to persist even after recovery.
The virus can spread from the lungs to the brain
SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, can cause neurological problems either directly by infecting the brain or as a result of strong activation of the immune system. In addition, it was stated that the infection of the olfactory nerves in the nose could cause the virus to spread from the lungs to the brain.
Human brain cells contain the ACE2 protein on their surface, which regulates blood pressure, detects viruses and is also found in blood vessels in endothelial cells. Infection of endothelial cells can pass the virus from the lungs to the blood, from there, through the blood brain boundaries to the brain. Once it reaches the brain, a repeat of the virus can cause neurological disorders.
SARS-CoV-2 can also result in the form of Guillian Barré syndrome directly as a response to strong immunity. But it can also indirectly cause brain inflammation, such as brain swelling, which is not exactly associated with neurological degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
SARS-CoV-2 is not the first respiratory virus to affect the brain. Influenza, measles, respiratory syncytial viruses can all infect the brain or nervous system center and cause neurological disorders. Fortunately, respiratory tract infections that reach the brain are a rare occurrence.
But with millions of Covid-19 infections worldwide, there is a risk of serious neurological diseases, especially in severe cases. It is important to be conscious of the possibility of neurological symptoms of Covid-19 in both short-term sudden diseases as well as long-term disorders. This also highlights the importance of preventing viral spreads / transmission and identifying who is and is infected.