Doctors say coronavirus infection can damage brain: Report
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Scientists and researchers are studying the effects of Covid-19 on humans extensively. Till now it is known to mainly damage our lungs, other organs that can be affected include the heart and blood vessels, kidneys and gut as well. But new evidence suggests that in some cases the disease might also infect the brain.
According to a report published by Times of India, neurologists at top hospitals in Delhi-NCR, including AIIMS, Fortis, Max and Manipal, among others, said they had come across many patients who had developed inflammation in the brain, delirium, seizures and stroke during treatment. In a few cases, the patients came with neurological symptoms and later developed fever, cough and breathing difficulty, the classic symptoms of Covid-19.
Dr Praveen Gupta, director and head of neurology department, Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurugram, told TOI, “A 28-year-old man was brought to the emergency ward a few weeks ago with sudden unconsciousness and recurrent episodes of seizures. We gave him antiepileptics. The patient didn’t have any history of fever, cough or other flu-like symptoms at the time of admission. But on screening, he was found to be Covid-positive.”
“His family didn’t believe us, so we ordered another Covid-19 test and even that came positive. Also, during the course of admission he developed fever and breathing difficulty, among other issues,” Gupta added.
The patient was put on a ventilator as his condition deteriorated, but with treatment he improved and was discharged recently, the neurologist said, adding that in the past few weeks he had seen at least seven Covid-19 patients suffering from neurological problems. “Five patients had flu-like symptoms and developed neurological problems, while two first developed neurological problems, followed by flu symptoms,” said Gupta.
Dr JD Mukherji, senior director and head of neurology at Max Saket, said about 10% of Covid-19 patients had neurological disorders. “There are some patients who develop neurological problems due to the infection,” he added.
Worldwide, scientists are recognising the growing evidence of neurological manifestations of Covid-19 and advising clinicians to identify such symptoms early for timely intervention.
Dr Kameshwar Prasad, professor of neurology at AIIMS, said Covid-19 could affect the brain in multiple ways. “First, the viral infection is known to affect lung function, which can cause lack of oxygen in the body. If the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can lead to unconsciousness, confusion and even death. Secondly, Covid-19 is known to cause loss of taste and smell, which means that it affects the olfactory nerve, the shortest of the nerves emerging from the brain responsible for this function. The infection can travel to the brain causing neurological disorders directly through this route,” he added.
“Thirdly, there are theories about Covid-19 leaving a long-lasting effect on the brain that manifests into clinical symptoms much later. There is a need to monitor neurological problems in Covid-19 patients for timely intervention,” Prasad said.
Research shows the novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, can bind itself to the ACE2 receptors — a protein on the surface of many cell types — and reach the central nervous system. “It can cause inflammation leading to encephalitis and meningitis. The inflammation of the brain can cause neurochemical imbalance giving rise to seizure. It can also increase clotting resulting in stroke, which is seen in 5% of patients,” Gupta said.
The post-viral immune mediated phenomena associated with Covid-19, the FMRI neurologist added, included Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, a rare inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system.
Posted By: Tushar Kumar Laleria