There are multiple reasons why COVID-19 is one of the scariest viruses that infectious disease doctors—such as Dr. Anthony Fauci—have come across in their entire careers. One of them is how it has the ability to quickly ravage the body as well as the mind, in multiple ways researchers have been scrambling to understand since the first cases were recognized in December 2019. Over the last six months, as worldwide infections have climbed to over 7.2 million, we have gotten a clearer picture of how the highly complex and deadly virus attacks its host, resulting in bizarre symptoms ranging from stroke to brain inflammation. This week, a new study courtesy of Northwestern Medicine and published Annals of Neurology claims to have a better understanding of how coronavirus threatens the entire nervous system, resulting in neurological manifestations of the virus.
Do You Have These Symptoms?
Researchers say that symptoms such as headache, dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness, and muscle pain, are all a result of nervous system damage—and may even be apparent well before any respiratory symptoms arise.
“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,” 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, said in a press release accompanying the study.
It Can Ravage the Entire Nervous System
According to Dr. Koralnik and his colleagues, the virus has the ability to ravage the entire nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and nerves as well as the muscles. And, there are a variety of ways they can do so.
The first is due to the fact that the disease attacks multiple organs, including the lungs, kidney, and heart; the brain may also be deprived of oxygen or suffer from clotting disorders, leading to ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes. Additionally, the virus can directly infect the brain. Finally, brain and nerve damaging inflammation is possibly due to the immune system’s reaction to the infection.
Dr. Koralnik and his colleagues are continuing to research the neurological implications of COVID-19 in hopes of aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.