Neurological Symptoms: Covid-19 Long-term Consequences

Neurological Symptoms, not only symptoms such as shortness of breath or the loss of smell and taste make life difficult for Covid 19 patients – many also suffer from sometimes severe long-term consequences. Various studies on those long-term symptoms have now shown that neurological impairments, in particular, are very persistent.

According to this, a considerable proportion of those recovered has chronic fatigue syndrome or concentration disorders for months after the illness. Nobody wants to contract Covid-19, as the infectious disease limits everyday life considerably in many cases.

In reports from patients, one reads and hears of symptoms such as shortness of breath and loss of the sense of smell and taste. Many information on the long-term consequences of Covid makes life difficult for many people who have recovered well beyond their acute phase of the illness.

It is primarily the neurological symptoms that persist for weeks or months after a Covid 19 disease, according to the German Society for Neurology (DGN). The researchers there looked at various comprehensive studies on the topic. They concluded that five neurological symptoms, in particular, are particularly persistent after an illness: the so-called chronic exhaustion syndrome – also known as fatigue – pain, concentration disorders, memory problems and sleep disorders.

Symptoms for Three Months After Surviving Illness

It varies significantly from patient to patient how long the individual Covid-19 episodes last, according to the DGN researchers. As a rule, they write, but it takes several weeks or months. It is the conclusion the researchers came to after viewing several extensive studies.

It includes a study from the Netherlands and Belgium. A total 2,113 Covid 19 sufferers had been examined for long-term effects. A full three months after the onset of their illness, 87 per cent continued to suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome after this time—the Benelux countries’ research team identified as the most common complication and long-term consequence. Chronic fatigue was even more persistent than the shortness of breath.

Other studies used by the DGN confirmed this result. In a British study with a total of 163 Covid 19 patients, shortness of breath and chronic fatigue were the most common symptoms after three months: 39 per cent in each case still suffered from one or both consequences after this period. A relatively large number of the participants also reported sleep disorders and pain: almost a quarter of them did not sleep well, and a fifth of all test persons still suffered from pain after three months.

And an Israeli study of 2,500 (ex) sick people also found something similar: Here the researchers found that even weeks after surviving the illness, the most common long-term consequences were chronic fatigue, shortness of breath pain, and runny nose or a runny nose.

What amazed the DGN researchers was that many Covid patients with mild illnesses also complained about these long-term consequences. But it is still those with severe disease who have the most significant risk of suffering from serious consequences long after the acute phase.

How serious is a study from France, for which a total of 19 Covid patients were examined over three months after their illness? All of them stated that they had severely lost their quality of life: 89 per cent of the participants suffered from pain, 42 per cent from anxiety and depression – and almost half complained that they had lost a lot of mobility due to muscle weakness.

“For many of those affected, the neurological symptoms improve over time, but we also have patients who fell ill in the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020 and are still not free of symptoms,” says Peter Berlin, Neurology Professor and Secretary-General the DGN. “Since COVID-19 is a new one. We have to clarify the causes of the symptoms and long-term effects of taking targeted action against the neurological complaints. “

The first step towards answers has been taken: establishing the so-called NAPKON project (NAPKON stands for: “Neurology Working Group in the National Pandemic Cohort Network). This research project, financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, also includes a long-term program in which people who have recovered from Covid-19 are examined in certain areas – regardless of their illness and representative of the respective region from which they come.

Such follow-up studies are essential to find out more information about the long-term effects of Covid, according to the DGN announcement. Reliable answers to the questions asked above will only be available in a few years – or even decades.