Covid Causes Much More than Brain Fog

A mountain of evidence tells us that even mild Covid is bad for your brain.

Covid Causes Much More than Brain Fog
Diana Vyshniakova

Last year, a case study in Frontiers in Pediatrics described what Covid did to the lives of two girls. Before getting sick, they made excellent grades. They had lots of friends. They played the piano.

They were healthy.

After a mild case of Covid, they started complaining about fatigue and joint pain. They forgot how to play their favorite songs. They couldn't do simple math. For six months, their parents and teachers didn't listen. They sent them to a psychologist.

They assumed the girls were suffering from anxiety.

They weren't.

Brain scans finally revealed hypometabolism. Their brains weren't absorbing nutrients. Covid had done something to them. Researchers decided to administer a special supplement to improve cognitive function. After months of treatment, the girls seemed to be showing some signs of improvement.

It was unclear if they would make a full recovery.

Here's a description of the treatment:

A product available in Italy that contains magnesium oxide, bulking agent cellulose, turmeric Meriva fitosomas rhizome e.s. titrated at 18% in curcuminoids, zinc gluconate, anticaking agents silicon dioxide, magnesium salts of fatty acids, and carboxymethyl cellulose sodium, soy seeds e.s. 40% isoflavones, 98% resveratrol, selenium, methionine, cholecalciferol, and folic acid.

We opted for this treatment based on the published literature showing positive biological effects of selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, and polyphenols on cognitive functions.

--Frontiers in Pediatrics

It's the same treatment given to patients with dementia and traumatic brain injury. That's not a coincidence.

A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that Covid infection results in a direct drop in your IQ. In their study, those with mild infections lost 3 IQ points. Those with more severe infections lost 6 points. Those who wound up in the ICU lost 9 points. As Ziyad Aly-Aly writes, letting Covid rip has already resulted in "an increase of 2.8 million adults with a level of cognitive impairment that requires significant societal support." Children are not being spared this fate.

Parents and teachers are storming social media with complaints about children who can't read, can't pay attention, and can't regulate their emotions. Here's one example:

Look at the comments.

People say this sudden deterioration happened just over the last few years. They say their kids can't write a sentence. They can't follow basic instructions. They can't read or do simple math. Everyone wants to blame something. They blame screens. They blame phones. They blame bad parenting. They blame bad teaching. They blame vaccines. They blame lockdowns. They blame online instruction.

It's none of the above.

It's Covid.

My family kept our daughter home until she was fully vaccinated. Even then, we donated multiple air purifiers to our school. She spent most of her day outside. When Covid waves hit, we advocated for masks and donated boxes of them to teachers and parents. My daughter doesn't have behavior problems. She's learning to read. She's happy.

What we did wasn't easy. Whether you attribute that to privilege or extreme sacrifice on our part, the truth remains. Every family and every child should've been able to do what we did. Local governments and school boards should've empowered them.

They didn't.

Dozens of studies tell us what Covid does to your brain. According to Harvard medical professor Anthony Komaroff, “COVID can damage the brain in many ways.”

A recent study in Nature Medicine identified two proteins responsible for memory and concentration problems in post-Covid patients. Researchers at NYU found that the virus can cause direct brain damage, but it often triggers ongoing brain inflammation that could be treated.

Covid survivors aren't making it up.

It's real.

We’ve known about the cognitive impacts of Covid since October 2020, when researchers published about it in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, noting a significant impairment “linked to the underlying inflammatory processes.” In other words, we had evidence that Covid caused brain inflammation that lasted for weeks or months after the infection. It was largely ignored.

According to the American Medical Association, Covid brain fog remains a common and persistent problem for millions. Patients describe “the feeling that their brain is lost in a maze, and they can’t find their way back.”

Here’s Stanford neuroscientist Michelle Monje:

Inflammation in the brain can cause dysregulation of a number of different cell types and have lasting consequences to cognitive function. Understanding that when the pandemic struck and we saw how profoundly immunogenic, how profoundly inflammatory even relatively mild cases of Covid could be, I really worried about a neurological health crisis. And I think we’re watching that unfold right now. The rates of persistent cognitive symptoms in the people who’ve recovered from Covid is frankly alarming.

This Stanford neurologist goes on to describe the “remarkably high rate” of persistent cognitive problems that doctors are seeing in Covid survivors, especially young people. They include struggles with focus and attention, information processing, and memory. Many of these survivors say, “I feel like I have dementia.”

It's happening in mild cases.

Mild infections trigger an immune response that causes brain inflammation. That brain inflammation disrupts the ability of your neurons to communicate with each other. We still don’t know how long it lasts. Some people get back to normal after a few months. Some take years. Others might never recover.

Studies have shown that Covid elevates your risk of memory problems by 77 percent, even in mild cases. They’ve found that Covid can destroy synapses in your brain, resulting in cognitive impairment on par with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Another recent study confirms that Covid can fuse brain cells, hampering their ability to function.

In March, Nature published a review of research confirming brain inflammation caused by Covid as a key cause of memory and concentration problems. Specifically, your immune system triggers inflammation in the brain. There's also evidence of direct infection that can cause your brain to age. Scientific American also published an overview of studies documenting Covid's impact on the brain. They've shown that Covid survivors routinely face the following:

  1. Cognitive deficits
  2. Memory problems
  3. Prolonged brain inflammation
  4. Fused brain cells
  5. Brain shrinkage

Covid infects your brain, even in mild cases. It triggers long-lasting brain inflammation. It can cause permanent brain damage.

More studies have shown us that children and teenagers face the same risk of Long Covid as adults. A recent study in Pediatrics found that Covid is causing a range of neurological problems in children, along with sleep disorders, lower academic performance, irritability, impulsive behavior, emotional instability, and even suicidal tendencies. As you can see with your own eyes, these problems are widespread in schools, and they're getting worse. Neuroscientists are extremely worried about how Covid inflammation harms brain development in children and teens.

Here's a growing list of sources:

We're living through the consequences of infecting everyone with Covid. Even Salon finally joined the chorus to describe what we're seeing as "a mass disabling event." Everyone wonders why test scores keep falling and why children can't read.

It's Covid.

The majority of the public thinks Covid is over. It's not. We're not testing. The rapid tests we have now are providing false negatives. Their accuracy hovers between 50 and 80 percent, depending on when you test. You also have to remember that as many as 44 percent of infections don't show any symptoms at all. In fact, the younger you are, the more likely you're going to have an asymptomatic or mild infection. Those people are still spreading the virus, and they're still vulnerable to Covid brain damage.

Adults are struggling with Covid brain damage and inflammation, too. They're struggling at work. They're losing their jobs. They're not getting the long term disability they need.

Maybe you've noticed a spike in ads for nootropics, often referred to as "smart drugs." Everyone suddenly wants to be like that guy in Limitless. Without some kind of stimulant, they feel lost. They can't think straight. I guess it's no accident that coffee consumption has also hit its highest point in two decades.

It looks like a lot of people with undiagnosed brain inflammation and damage from Covid are trying to self-medicate with caffeine, ADHD meds, and smart drugs. They're not getting the help they need.

It's Covid.

There's only one way to help kids and teens with their learning now. They don't need more time in school. They don't need tutoring or test prep. They don't need their tablets and phones taken away. They need clean air. They need a proper diagnosis. They need more options for treatment and therapy. They need adults who listen.

In every case, Covid survivors need specific treatment and therapy to restore healthy brain function. Scientists are working on it. Researchers at Yale have found some potential with drugs like NAC and guanfacine, or supplements like the girls in Italy were given. Apparently, these drugs are sold over the counter, but we're still waiting on a major study to back them.

For those with permanent brain damage who won't fully recover, they still need a diagnosis so they can get the accommodations and therapy they need. We also need to stop infecting them with Covid.

It's just going to make things worse.

On a related note, guanfacine is used to treat ADHD. It's an alternative to the popular drug Adderall. We just happen to be in the middle of a dire ADHD medication shortage.

It's not a coincidence.

It's a hard thing to admit that everyone from politicians to school boards either neglected the problem or lied about it to teachers and parents. It's hard to admit that many children's lives have been forever altered because of the decisions made by adults charged with their protection.

Denying it will make things worse. Denying it will only prolong the problem and facilitate more Covid in schools.

If you care about what's happening to children and adolescents, don't jump to convenient conclusions about phones. Look at the abundant research on Covid brain damage and inflammation. Advocate for upgrades to ventilation. Advocate for air purifiers. Advocate for effective masks. Advocate for diagnosis, treatment, and accommodations. Do something more than complain about tablets and phones. That's not going to help.

It's not phones.

It's Covid.

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