Can COVID-19 affect brain function?

COVID-19 does appear to affect brain function in some people. Specific neurological symptoms seen in people with COVID-19 include loss of smell, inability to taste, muscle weakness, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, dizziness, confusion, delirium, seizures, and stroke.

One study that looked at 214 people with moderate to severe COVID-19 in Wuhan, China found that about one-third of those patients had one or more neurological symptoms. Neurological symptoms were more common in people with more severe disease.

Neurological symptoms have also been seen in COVID-19 patients in the US and around the world. Some people with neurological symptoms tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have any respiratory symptoms like coughing or difficulty breathing; others experienced both neurological and respiratory symptoms.

Experts do not know how the coronavirus causes neurological symptoms. They may be a direct result of infection or an indirect consequence of inflammation or altered oxygen and carbon dioxide levels caused by the virus.

The CDC has added “new confusion or inability to rouse” to its list of emergency warning signs that should prompt you to get immediate medical attention.

Source: Harvard Medical School, USA

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