Many people who recover from COVID-19 go on to experience debilitating cognitive effects, including brain fog and problems with memory and attention.
A new studyTrusted Source published in JAMA Network Open Friday found that 24 percent of participants who recovered from COVID-19 had difficulty with memory encoding, 23 percent had a hard time with memory recall, and 18 percent developed difficulties with processing information.
Patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 or treated in an emergency room were more likely to develop cognitive effects compared to people diagnosed with COVID-19 who were treated in an outpatient setting.
Those who were hospitalized were 2.8 times more likely to experience difficulty paying attention compared to outpatients.
The researchers also noted that previous research found older adults are more susceptible to cognitive impairment after being critically ill with COVID-19.
Do we know why COVID-19 can trigger cognitive effects?
According to Dr. F. Perry Wilson, a Yale Medicine physician and researcher at Yale School of Medicine, a lot of research has shown there’s a link between COVID-19 and long-term neurological deficits, but scientists are still learning about why this happens.
There are a few theories under investigation, said Wilson.
One is the widespread inflammation COVID-19 causes in the brain and body, another is the infectionTrusted Source of brain endothelial cells, and the third is that COVID-19 causes tiny blood clots that can damage the small vessels of the brain.
“While the exact mechanisms have not been elucidated, it appears that COVID-19 exerts its effects through the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself as well as the inflammation the infection causes in the body,” Dr. Liron Sinvani, a hospitalist-geriatrician at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, said.
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