Corbett O’Connor has had COVID three times since his first bout in April 2020.
But only now does the New Yorker feel better.
“It’s been a year since I last had COVID, and I’m just beginning to feel like I’m going through it, both mentally and physically,” he says.
Doctors are trying to understand brain fog, which some studies estimate can affect up to 70% of COVID patients. study show People with COVID show a measurable increase in brain fog compared to their counterparts, even if they don’t realize it, but those symptoms appear about six to nine months later. Canceled.
Theories about what causes brain fog are still controversial, and treatments vary widely. Raphael Kelmaninternist and functional medicine physician Kerman Wellness Center in New York last summer. Kelman treats patients based on the idea that inflammation in the brain causes these symptoms.
“Brain fog is a very prominent problem, remembering, feeling bad, and the number one problem is chronic inflammation,” Kelman says. It’s in.”
Physicians at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center took a different approach at a post-COVID-19 recovery clinic that opened in November 2020. They say the cause of brain fog in COVID patients has not been identified with conclusive evidence. Instead, the doctor is focusing on treating the symptoms of more than 500 long-distance COVID patients.
Karla Yoney, Senior Advanced Practice Provider at UPMC Post-COVID-19 Recovery Clinic, said: “Brain fog is probably her second most common symptom, along with fatigue.”
Patients with brain fog are usually referred to a speech and language therapist for cognitive rehabilitation. Patients do a series of weekly brain exercises to get things working smoothly again.
“We are focused on symptom management,” says Yoney. “The bottom line is that until we have enough data across the board, we can’t even really speculate whether it’s inflammation.”
Long COVID Brain Fog Symptoms
O’Connor first realizes something is wrong when he returns to work. Suddenly all he could do was get home and spend the whole day before going to bed.Simple tasks took time and his colleagues noticed he was losing things here and there. rice field.
“It was relatively simple, like excluding someone from an email thread or someone saying, ‘Did you know I forgot to attach a document?'” he said. say. “It was embarrassing.”
Outside of work, he found his chess game going poorly. He often plays with his son, who needed a handicap to win the game after he contracted COVID.
Doctors say brain fog is defined by short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating. This may confuse some people. As the name suggests, patients often feel like they have to put more time and effort into the same tasks that drivers do when navigating heavy fog on the road.
“Memory, name recall, confusion, poor concentration,” says Kelman. When patients come to him, they often recognize that COVID is the beginning of their symptoms, but he believes that many suffer without realizing what started their symptoms.
“Some people realize they developed this after COVID and others don’t have that connection,” he says. I don’t know, but I can usually see the timeline.”
In short, there is a lot of overlap between long COVID and autoimmune diseases, says Kellman. You may or may not be diagnosed with COVID.
“People complain about processing speed, forgetfulness, poor concentration, poor attention, poor concentration, etc. These are some of the signature symptoms,” he says. Dr. Eric Won, President and Chief Medical Officer wave neuroscience at Newport Beach, California.
Causes of Long COVID Brain Fog
Some doctors agree that brain fog is the result of inflammation in the brain. This happens when the body works in overdrive to fend off viruses such as COVID. is thought to cause
There are certainly ways to test, but many of these tests are expensive and unnecessary, says Kellman. Some tests look for interleukins and cytokines, small proteins in the blood produced by the immune system that cause inflammation.
Instead, many doctors choose to treat brain fog as inflammation, which also affects the gut microbiome and can lead to autoimmune disease, says Kellman.
“So these are the underlying issues. If we deal with these people, we can improve. We can actually improve. We need to know what’s going on,” he says.
Yoney said the cause is not yet clear. Alternatively, the patient can refer herself to the clinic for her long-term COVID symptoms, which he defines as symptoms lasting more than 2 months from the first bout of COVID. Patients who complain of brain fog during this period should first have their thyroid and B12 levels checked at the clinic to ensure that fatigue, for example, is not part of another underlying problem. From there, a person with brain fog may undergo several cognitive tests to confirm the deficit—many patients have also had an MRI of her, but so far Brain Fog’s The patient shows no signs of damage, Yoney said.
“The good news is that when a patient comes in, depending on the red flags and symptoms, they may order an imaging study of the head before going to the neurologist,” Yoney said. “We found no structural changes. These are normal head CTs and brain MRIs, which reassures people, but I can’t speak to functional scans.”
Yoney explains that functional scans may reveal more about how brain fog manifests itself in the brain.
Prolonged COVID Brain Fog Treatment
During the summer of 2021, between his second and third bouts of COVID, O’Connor sought treatment after seeing an email from his son’s doctor listing long-distance COVID symptoms.
Kelman started him on a course of herbal compounds and supplements aimed at reducing his inflammation.
Dr. Kelman says there is some evidence that infrared light can also help reduce inflammation.
Patients taking his prescription have seen improvement in just a few weeks, he says.
“We definitely saw results,” says O’Connor.
Mr. Wong gives his patients a different kind of treatment. It was developed after studying its efficacy in chemotherapy patients suffering from a similar form of brain fog called chemobrain.He can test EEG for evidence of inflammation, Or EEG.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) It uses a magnetic field to stimulate nerve cells and restore their function.
“Our experience is that when neurons slow down, they just need stimulation,” says Wong.
Kellman believes time and therapy can help fight brain fog, but he doesn’t believe there’s a way to retrain your brain to overcome the symptoms.
“Stress reduction helps, but in my experience it’s not enough,” he says.
Wong says good sleep hygiene is important, and mindfulness and meditation can help as well. Additionally, daily activity has been proven to improve brain health.
“30 minutes of activity three to four times a week can restore function faster than sedentary people,” he adds.
However, it is also not recommended to expect the condition to resolve itself over time.
“Brain inflammation can lead to chronic problems such as early dementia, and there is already a link between COVID and dementia,” adds Kellman.
As such, he sees the condition as urgent and serious, but says patients should not be discouraged.
“People should feel hopeful because there is a cure,” says Dr. Kellman.
Yoney said her patients are usually referred to a speech pathologist for cognitive therapy, which lasts four to 12 weeks. After these weekly sessions, patients are tested again and compared to the initial baseline test to show improvement. I said I did.
clinic Commence clinical trials immediately We compare the effects of cognitive therapy with 3 months of Adderall treatment to compare the effects of each.
In the meantime, Yoney said long-standing COVID symptoms may resolve on their own. However, patients who seek treatment in clinics typically have been coping with their symptoms for a year or more.
This story was originally Fortune.com
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