World Brain Day 2021: How does Covid-19 affect the brain?


Guwahati: The pandemic has made people particularly cautious and health-conscious. Around the world, many people have started to prioritize their well-being, reading and learning about the various ways in which this ever-evolving virus can harm them.

Just like other organs in the body, the virus is understood to affect the brain as well. According to a study by WebMD, about 1 in 7 persons, who have had Covid-19, have developed neurological side effects, or symptoms that affected their brain function. They have experienced confusion, loss of smell, life-threatening strokes, and even fatality.

Dr. Vinay Goyal, director, neurology at the Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta, says based on research, there are four predominant ways in which the COVID-19 virus can affect the brain:

1. The virus may have the capacity to intrude the brain, causing a severe and sudden infection. This may occur due to the virus entering the bloodstream or nerve endings, indicated by a loss of smell.

2. The immune system, in its attempt to combat it, can produce a maladaptive inflammatory response, which can cause significant damage to tissues and organs.

3. Physiological changes that the body undergoes due to the virus, which can account for brain dysfunction.

4. The tendency in patients to suffer a stroke. The blood-clotting system in patients with the illness is highly abnormal, with the chances of clot formation being much higher. In case these blood clots narrow the arteries leading to the brain, one can suffer a stroke.

Long-term cognitive effects of Covid-19

Patients who suffered silent strokes or lack of oxygen that damaged their brain, are susceptible to the long-term cognitive effects. Silent strokes affect the brain’s white matter, thereby hindering communication. This leads to a challenge in sustained attention.

Thus, the doctor advises you to be on the lookout for these signs and symptoms post recovery, and reach out immediately for timely management and treatment.