COVID-19 can be dangerous for the entire nervous system, as shown by a review of neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients, published in Annals of Neurology.
The review authors, specialists from Northwestern Medicine, found that approximately half of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had neurological symptoms, including headache, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, olfaction and taste disorders, cramps, strokes, weakness, and muscle pain.
“It’s important for the general public and physicians to be aware of this, because a SARS-COV-2 infection may present with neurologic symptoms initially, before any fever, cough or respiratory problems occur,” said lead author of the review, Dr. Igor Koralnik, Northwestern Medicine chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology and a professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
According to technologynetworks.com, the review describes various neurological conditions that can occur in the COVID-19 patients, and methods for their diagnosis, as well as possible pathogenic mechanisms.
As the researchers noted, the coronavirus infection can affect the entire nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles. There are many different reasons why COVID-19 can cause neurological dysfunction. Since the disease can affect several organs (lungs, kidneys, heart), the brain also suffers from a lack of oxygenation or blood clotting disorders that can lead to ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes. Besides, the coronavirus can cause a direct infection of the brain and meninges. Lastly, the immune system's response to infection can cause inflammation, which can damage the brain and nerves.
"Since knowledge about the long term outcome of neurologic manifestations of COVID-19 is limited, Koralnik also will follow some of those patients prospectively in his new outpatient Neuro-COVID clinic to determine if neurological problems are temporary or permanent. These studies will provide the foundation on how to diagnose, manage and treat the many neurologic manifestations of COVID-19, he said," the source noted.