Scientists have sounded the alarm on Long Covid’s impact on concentration and memory.
Even several months after catching Covid, 70 percent of Long Covid sufferers experienced problems with memory and concentration, according to a new study.
Almost 80 percent of Long Covid patients experienced difficulty concentrating, 69 percent reported brain fog, and 68 percent reported forgetfulness.
The severity of these symptoms were linked to the level of fatigue and neurological symptoms, like dizziness and headache, experienced during a person’s initial Covid illness.
Half the patients reported difficulty getting medical professionals to take their symptoms seriously.
The University of Cambridge researchers added, “perhaps because cognitive symptoms do not get the same attention as lung problems or fatigue”.
The authors say their results support other findings suggesting society will face a “long tail” of workforce illness due to lasting effects of the virus.
“Long Covid has received very little attention politically or medically,” said senior author Dr Lucy Cheke.
“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. “
The study, published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, monitored 181 Long Covid patients over 18 months.
Participants performed multiple tasks to assess their decision-making and memory, including remembering words in a list and remembering which two images appeared together.
Long Covid sufferers performed worse on cognitive tests – results revealed a consistent pattern of ongoing memory problems.
Indeed, problems were more severe in those with overall ongoing symptoms of the virus.
To help understand the cause of the cognitive issues, the researchers investigated other symptoms that might be linked.
What they found was that people who experienced fatigue and neurological symptoms, like dizziness and headache, during their initial illness were more likely to have cognitive symptoms later on.
Also, those who were still experiencing neurological symptoms were particularly impaired on cognitive tests.
Researchers note the findings are of “particular concern” giving the prevalence of Long Covid.
“This is important evidence that when people say they’re having cognitive difficulties post-Covid, these are not necessarily the result of anxiety or depression,” said Dr Muzaffer Kaser, a researcher from the University of Cambridge who was involved in the study.
“The effects are measurable – something concerning is happening.”