While respiratory issues such as asthma, pneumonia, etc. are well-known symptoms of the covid 19, a new study published in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology has found that 4 out of 5 of hospitalized patients face some kind of neurological manifestation. The researchers carried out the study in 509 patients hospitalized in a hospital network in Chicago and found out that 419 of those patients showed neurological symptoms of coronavirus at some point in the course of their time at the hospital.
The authors wrote in their study that the most frequently occurring neurological symptoms of coronavirus were headaches (experienced by 37.7% patients), dizziness (experienced by 30% of patients), anosmia (experienced by 11.4% of patients), myalgias, encephalopathy (experienced by 32% of patients), and dysgeusia (impaired sense of taste) (experienced by 16% of patients). Some of the uncommon symptoms were motor, and sensory deficits, seizures, movement disorders, strokes, and ataxia. The average stay in the hospital for these patients was also three times longer than usual and the risk of death was seven times higher.
The study incorporated data from coronavirus patients admitted across an academic medical center and nine hospitals within Chicago’s Northwestern Medicine Healthcare system between the months of March and April. Moreover, around 26% of those patients needed mechanical ventilation. The researchers found that around 42% of the patients, before going to the hospital, had some sort of neurological manifestations when the symptoms first started to emerge. Then when they needed to be admitted to the hospital, nearly 63% of them showed neurological symptoms of coronavirus, according to the data.
Researchers also discovered that younger patients tended to be more vulnerable to the neurological symptoms of coronavirus, however, encephalopathy was more recurring in older people. The researchers believe that the cause of these neurological symptoms being discovered in young people might be because doctors focused more on younger patients as the younger patients are less likely to suffer a respiratory failure or the fact that it is more likely that young people seek medical care for the symptoms.
Even after these patients left the hospital, many of their symptoms remained. Only around 32% of them were able to complete simple tasks like paying bills or cooking, according to the chief of neuro-infectious disease and global neurology at Northwestern Medicine and senior author of the study Dr. Igor Koralnik.
The study did not specify how the coronavirus can cause encephalopathy, however, Dr. Koralnik believes that encephalopathy is sometimes brought on by other diseases including those that cause changes in blood circulation and inflammation, particularly in older patients. Moreover, a majority of the health experts believe that the covid19 doesn’t attack the brain cells directly but these neurological symptoms are a byproduct of inflammation and immune system responses.
This isn’t the first study of its kind, as a study in April of 214 coronavirus patients discovered that more than one-third of the patients experienced some sort of neurological complications. The virus is capable of causing neurological complications like brain inflammation, nerve damage, delirium, and stroke.