Why people with long COVID have “brain fog”

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Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), is a condition where individuals experience persistent symptoms after recovering from COVID-19, lasting for weeks or even months.

These symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint and muscle pain, brain fog, and loss of taste or smell, among others.

It can affect individuals of any age, including those who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. The exact cause of long COVID is still being studied, and there is currently no known cure.

Brain fog is a general term used to describe a health condition characterized by difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, confusion, and an overall feeling of mental fatigue or sluggishness.

In the context of long COVID, brain fog means the cognitive impairment and neurological symptoms that some people experience even after recovering from the acute phase of the illness.

These symptoms can include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and other forms of cognitive dysfunction.

In a recent study, La Trobe University researchers have identified the cause of the cognitive impairment, commonly referred to as “brain fog,” in long COVID patients.

The study found similarities between the effects of COVID-19 and the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The team found that toxic clumps of protein, known as amyloid assemblies, similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease, can form from fragments of protein from SARS-CoV-2, called ORF6 and ORF10, which are highly toxic to brain cells grown in a lab.

The research team suggests that these protein aggregates may trigger neurological symptoms, such as memory loss, sensory confusion, severe headaches, and even stroke in up to 30% of long COVID cases, which can persist for months after the infection is over.

If further studies confirm the role of amyloid clumps in long COVID, then drugs developed to combat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may be repurposed to treat these symptoms.

The study, conducted by Dr. Nick Reynolds and colleagues, is published in Nature Communications.

If you care about Long COVID, please read studies that lung damage may persist long after COVID-19 infection, and doctors explain the mystery of long COVID.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that many people with long COVID get memory problems, and results showing this drug may relieve painful ‘long covid’ symptoms.

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