If you suffer from a common Covid symptom you are at risk of ‘long-term brain deterioration’, experts warn

A COMMON Covid symptom during infection could foreshadow brain decline.

Loss of the sense of smell has affected millions worldwide and currently infects about 10 percent of cases, data shows.

A common Covid symptom was linked to brain decline a year later


A common Covid symptom was linked to brain decline a year laterPhoto credit: Getty

And a team of researchers from Argentina has found that those who suffer from anosmia (loss of smell) may be more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment.

They examined hundreds of people between the ages of 55 and 95 for a year after the Covid infection.

Of the 766 participants in Jujuy, Argentina, 88.4 percent had Covid and 11.6 percent did not (known as the control group).

Their level of anosmia (none, mild, moderate, or severe) was assessed using a test that required participants to identify three different odors.

The researchers tested four areas of cognition – memory, attention, language and executive function – over the course of a year.

According to News Medical, two-thirds of Covid patients had functional memory impairment, which was severe in half of them.

About 11.7 percent had problems with memory only, 8.3 percent had impairment in attention and executive function combined, and 11.6 percent had problems in all domains.

Study researcher Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez-Alemán told Medscape Medical News that the participants “exhibited a predominant memory deficit similar to what would be seen in Alzheimer’s disease.”

A large group presented “a combination of memory and attention problems.”

None of the people in the control group had problems with their smell.

But 40 per cent of those with Covid did – and all participants with severe cognitive impairment also had anosmia.

Researchers found that anosmia severity, rather than Covid severity, predicted cognitive impairment.

“Our data strongly suggest that adults over 60 years of age are more susceptible to post-Covid cognitive impairment if they have had an olfactory disorder, regardless of the severity of the Covid,” said Dr. Gonzalez Alemán.

Cognitive problems persisted a year after the illness, but Dr. Gonzalez-Alemán added that it’s too early to tell if it’s permanent.

dr Claire Sexton, senior director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association, said “loss of smell is a signal of an inflammatory response in the brain.”

She added: “We know that inflammation is part of the neurodegenerative process in diseases like Alzheimer’s. But we need to take a closer look at how they are connected.”

William A. Haseltine, an American scientist, wrote in Forbes: “Rather than disease severity, loss of smell seems a more promising way to predict who will develop persistent cognitive changes after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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“As from Dr. Gonzalez-Aleman in Neurology Today, anosmia could be a sign of SARS-CoV-2 infection entering the brain through the olfactory bulb, or a sign of an ongoing disease process after infection.

“With additional research, the hope is to better understand this connection and thus develop a means to prevent such brain damage.”

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5967862/loss-of-smell-covid-more-risk-brain-decline/ If you suffer from a common Covid symptom you are at risk of ‘long-term brain deterioration’, experts warn

Sarah Y. Kim

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