Specialists warn against “Neuro-Covid”
Smell and taste disorders most common
According to a new Italian study, the majority of those affected continue to have symptoms even after the acute illness. Many Covid 19 patients are hardly physically resilient for weeks, in some cases even neurological symptoms and failures remain. Numerous studies have now confirmed this. The most common disorder is the sense of smell and taste, which affects about 80% of patients. “These olfactory and taste disorders can also exist without other symptoms of the coronavirus infection,” warns Professor Peter Berlit, General Secretary of the German Society for Neurology (DGN). Whoever has these complaints should definitely be tested on Sars-CoV-2. In most cases, these disorders disappear.
Strokes also possible in young people
But it can also lead to brain damage, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord or strokes. Strokes are rather rare, but would not only occur in high-risk patients with cardiovascular diseases, but also in young people with healthy vessels, reports the neurologist Berlit. 30% of all Covid-19 patients showed a significantly increased tendency to clot and developed thrombosis, pulmonary embolism or even heart attacks. As a result of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the peripheral nervous system can be damaged. Specialists therefore already speak of “Neuro-Covid”.
Fatigue, smelling disorders, headache and dizziness
Doctors are also concerned that many neurological symptoms persist over a long period of time. However, such complaints could go back up to 12 months, said Professor Berlit. “We won’t know until the spring of 2021 whether there is really permanent damage due to Covid-19,” said the neurologist. The study from Italy examined whether and what complaints Corona patients had after leaving the hospital. 88% of those affected continued to show symptoms even after staying in the hospital. The most common neurological consequences were fatigue (approx. 53%), impaired sense of smell (approx. 16%), taste disturbances (approx. 11%), but also headache (approx. 10%) and dizziness (approx. 5%)
Coronavirus: compared to Spanish flu
A study by the Berlin Charité examined 11 intensive care patients with Covid-19 who suffered from neurological symptoms. The result: obviously the immune system in seriously ill patients is directed against the body’s own nerve cells and triggers the neurological complaints. Some scientists already make a historical comparison. The Spanish flu in 1918 also triggered unexplained neurological complaints. Back then, about a million people suffered from “Encephalitis lethargica”, also known as European sleeping sickness, for over a decade. “This shows that neurological follow-up care for Covid 19 patients with corresponding advanced diagnostics is extremely important,” said Professor Berlit.
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