7 in 10 long COVID patients still battle memory and concentration problems

CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom — The vast majority of people dealing with “long COVID” are experiencing memory and concentration problems — months after their actual coronavirus infection, a new study warns. Researchers at the University of Cambridge say seven in 10 people experiencing the lingering effects of COVID are now struggling mentally.

The study finds long COVID patients are also performing worse on cognitive exams. Moreover, three in four people with a severe case of long COVID say they have been unable to work because of it.

The team also found a link between the severity of symptoms and how much fatigue, dizziness, and headache pain patients experienced during their initial bout with the virus. Worryingly, half of long COVID sufferers claim they’ve struggled to get doctors to take their condition seriously.

Long COVID has received very little attention politically or medically. It urgently needs to be taken more seriously, and cognitive issues are an important part of this. When politicians talk about ‘Living with COVID’ – that is, unmitigated infection, this is something they ignore. The impact on the working population could be huge,” says study senior author Dr. Lucy Cheke in a university release.

“People think that long COVID is ‘just’ fatigue or a cough, but cognitive issues are the second most common symptom – and our data suggest this is because there is a significant impact on the ability to remember.”

Long COVID patients dealing with brain fog, forgetfulness

Researchers say there is growing evidence that COVID-19 impacts the brain, with multiple studies likening its impact to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 can lead to inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can affect behavior and cognitive performance in ways we still don’t fully understand, but we think are related to an early excessive immune response,” says Dr. Muzaffer Kaser.

“It’s important that people seek help if they’re concerned about any persistent symptoms after COVID infection. COVID can affect multiple systems and further assessment is available in long COVID clinics across the UK, following a GP referral.”

Of the 181 people who took part in the study, 78 percent reported difficulty concentrating, 69 percent said they experienced “brain fog,” 68 percent had moments of forgetfulness, and three in five had problems finding the right words while speaking. These self-reported symptoms were confirmed by the significantly lower ability among long COVID sufferers to remember words and pictures in cognitive tests.

Severe cases of COVID leading to more cognitive issues

During the study, participants took part in several tasks to assess their decision-making abilities and memory. These included remembering words in a list and remembering which two images appeared together. Results revealed a consistent pattern of ongoing memory problems in those who previously suffered a coronavirus infection.

Study authors say these problems were more pronounced in people whose overall ongoing symptoms were more severe. The researchers investigated other symptoms that could have a link to long COVID to help them pinpoint their causes.

They found people who experienced fatigue and neurological symptoms, such as dizziness and headache, during their initial illness were more likely to have cognitive symptoms later on. They also found that those who were still experiencing neurological symptoms particularly struggled on cognitive tests.

Results show that, even among people who did not need to go to the hospital, those with worse initial symptoms of COVID-19 were more likely to have a variety of ongoing long COVID symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain, chest tightness, and breathing issues weeks and months later. Those symptoms were likely to be more severe than in people whose initial illness was mild.

‘A huge impact on my life’

Study authors also found that people over 30 were more likely to have severe ongoing symptoms than younger COVID patients. The findings are of particular concern given the prevalence of long COVID, which health experts estimate could affect between 10 and 25 percent of people who test positive for COVID.

“Having been fit and active all my life, after catching COVID-19 during the first wave, my son (then 13) and I didn’t seem to recover. We were left with debilitating fatigue and a confusing mix of strange and life changing symptoms. I was also left with significant neurological symptoms, including speech and language issues, which had a huge impact on my life,” explains long COVID patient Lyn Curtis.

“My other children also experienced significant ongoing symptoms every time we were re-infected, such as changes to periods, fatigue, insomnia, changes in mood, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and nose bleeds,” Curtis continues. “The acknowledgement of long COVID and a greater understanding of the associated symptoms is essential both for identifying treatments and the management of existing symptoms. The work into the effects on cognition are especially important to me, as this is the ongoing symptom that impacts the most on my quality of life and ability to work.”

The researchers add long COVID is causing and will continue to cause high rates of workplace absences and disruptions to society. They say it is important not just for sufferers themselves but for society as a whole to understand what causes the condition and how to treat it.

The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

South West News Service contributed to this report.

Comments

  1. I predicted this would happen before covid even arrived. This strangely accurate forecast was made because the real illness is a response to increased WiFi and 5G. Notice that this supposed cold is causing neurological symptoms. The repetitive EMFs can make a person more prone to viral infections as but a part of a wider constellation of symptoms.

    1. If it’s WiFi and 5G, these symptoms would be prevelent in everyone, not just those with long COVID. WiFi has been around well over 2 decades, and nearly everywhere for over a decade. Most of us are exposed to WiFi 24/7. If it was causing neuroligical disorders, everyone would be experiencing them.

    2. You are mistaken Kelly. Probably as a result of your failing memory.

      You predicted that you would be rectally probed by a gang of Martian Moon men from the hollow core of the flat Earth.

      And you were right.

  2. knock it off with the cutesy terms like ‘long covid’… terms designed to make it seem less horrific than it is. it was DESIGNED to do this, and other damage to the human body, such as wrecking the immune system.

    i’ve had the wuhan twice – unvaccinated, thank God – and i have noticed moderate memory issues. concentration issues such as i simply cannot read a book. also do some weird things now like putting things in the cupboard, versus the fridge, and vice versa. it all scares me. will it worsen?

    i think the vax-that-doesn’t really-work is further degrading people’s immune systems. the end game being that at the right time, they release a deadlier engineered virus that will wipe out the majority of people on the planet.

  3. People were locked up and masked up for close to two years. The were inactive, lacked the exercise they once enjoyed, while masking deprived them of oxygen. Rather than referring to “long covid” as a biological condition caused by a man-made virus, maybe attention should be redirected to the existential actions that dramatically altered people’s lifestyles, and resulted in lethargy and reduced mental acuity as a result of lock-downs.

    1. Masking people deprives them of oxygen in the same way underpants deprive people of toilets.

      R. Dobson’s tin foil hat also deprives him of washing his hair.

      1. ahahahhaha Vendicar you slay me. That’s funny. This covid stuff really brings some weird conspiracies out of the woodworks.

  4. Wow. Just wow. I sure hope Kelley Eidem is being facetious because anyone who is blaming WiFi and 5G is flat out not intelligent enough to have a voice that should matter on any issue in a functional society.

    We may all have the ability to talk, some people just say really stupid things and should never be given any real power over anyone. That includes a right to vote.

    Long Covid has NOTHING to do with Wifi or 5G and if you need to be informed of that fact, there is no hope for you EVER of being a rational, wise or intelligent human being.

    1. She should be out there burning down those metal 5G towers.

      I’m sure if she gets a hot enough match she could do it.

  5. It’s not just cognitive issues. I was in the hospital for 2 months. I cam home on 6 liters of oxygen, with a oxygen concentrator in the house. I have made it down to 4 liters, and here I sit. Might be lifelong the doctor says now. Tied to an oxygen machine. With my air tubing only going 50 feet in any direction, and huge tanks that only have 2 hours air supply, to lug around. Yes they have the portable ones, seen those prices? Yeah, I can’t afford that. Not only that, the battery only lasts 2 hours as well, although they can be charged in the car, and can be plugged into the car while you are traveling.

    But many people are on home oxygen due to covid, and are not getting off any time soon.

    1. I’m here to offer some hope. My hospital stay wasn’t as long because of the waiting patients in the hospital halls. I was sent home with oxygen levels in the low 70’s because my wife is a nurse. On the positive side, my heart issues have resolved. Took 18 months, but I’m on the right side of the grass. Lung issues are trailing, but continuing to improve. Bad days happen and they really suck, but remember that the human body is a gifted, wonderful thing. One step forward…

    2. Shame. Your lungs must be highly scared.

      Give it a couple of years. There may still be improvement.

  6. Once again not using journalism. Of the 7 out of 10 affected, how many had the shot???? Just the entire facts not the picked ones and not the entire facts in a report. The writer needs to know how to THINK!!!!!!

  7. I’ve had longcovid for 20 months now (I sound like a parent of a newborn rather than someone stuck at home with a debilitating disorder). It’s really taught me some humility. I used to feel good about myself because of my intellectual abilities. Those are total trash now. I have to have a calculator to do the most BASIC math, and I can’t spell anymore. The spelling errors are funny though. It’s like my brain is trying to spell things phonetically…the other day I tried to spell “user” “youser.” Also “paid” was “payed” and for the life of me I could not figure out why google was marking it as wrong.

    Don’t anchor your self-worth in your abilities. I’m 34 who used to run 5ks, now with the current physical ability of a sick 90 year old with severe cognitive lapses. Your intelligence, your “ableness,” your ability to produce or be something or other…it’s all passing away. Faster for some of us than others, but still fleeting for everyone. Find something better to anchor your self-worth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.