Long Covid: Six risk factors increasing the likelihood of brain fog

January 20, 2022

Yesterday, the Daily Express published an online article about long Covid and the six risk factors increasing the likelihood of cognitive dysfunction (also known as brain fog).


“Brain fog is one of the most common persistent symptoms among people recovering from Covid. und half of people suffering from long Covid.

Examination of the cerebrospinal fluid of several long Covid patients found elevated levels of inflammatory protein and the presence of unexpected antibodies. The researchers speculate that these “turncoat” antibodies could be attacking the body and causing long-term symptoms.”

“It’s possible that the immune system, stimulated by the virus, may be functioning in an unintended pathological way,” explained senior author Dr Joanna Hellmuth “This would be the case even though the individuals did not have the virus in their bodies.”

The article contains a hyperlink to the following research found on Wiley Online – Risk factors and abnormal cerebrospinal fluid associate with cognitive symptoms after mild COVID-19 published 19 Jan 2022.

MEA Comments

Dr Charles Shepherd, Honorary Medical Adviser to the MEA comments:

“Cognitive dysfunction, also known as “brain fog”, refers to a range of problems that affect and disrupt normal mental functioning

Common ones include problems with short term memory, concentration, attention span, information processing and word finding abilities. It is a very characteristic and diagnosis feature of ME/CFS and one of the top three symptoms of Long Covid.

The descriptions of cognitive dysfunction given by people with Long Covid are generally no different to those given by people with ME/CFS.

So it seems likely that similar causative mechanisms are involved.

What we already know from research into ME/CFS is that there are several possible explanations for cognitive dysfunction involving the brain.

These include lowered blood supply to the brain and the possibility that low level immune system activation is leading to low level neuroinflammation – which links into this new research involving Long Covid and the finding of inflammatory markers in the spinal fluid.

It should also be noted that insomnia (which is very common in both conditions) and depression (where it occurs) are both likely to exacerbate any form of existing cognitive dysfunction.

There is currently no effective drug or supplement treatment for cognitive dysfunction in ME/CFS.

So we need to gain a much better idea about why this is happening in both conditions if we are going to try and find an effective form of drug treatment.

The ME Association has an information leaflet that covers the management of all aspects of cognitive dysfunction in ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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