Are there neurological issues, other than strokes, that I should worry about?

Biology/Immunity Clinical Symptoms

A: Yes and no. Most of the other neurological complications seen to date have occurred later in disease progression (some time after active COVID-19 symptoms). There is some concern that COVID-19 can have effects on neural cells in the brain through the same mechanism that the virus enters other cells (ACE-2 receptor). There is also the possibility that inflammation (the body’s response to the infectious invader) due to COVID-19 disrupts the epithelial cells (including in the nose, cranial nerves involved in taste, gut, and of course, respiratory system). The results of this disruption are still being investigated, but there may be either an increased risk of short term neuropsychiatric or long term neuropsychiatric effects, including autoimmune responses such as Guillan-Barre syndrome (which can lead to partial paralysis) or increased risk of depression or anxiety from the virus and its consequences rather than the psychological impact alone (1). In sum, there are potential neurological and psychiatric sequalae from this virus. We don’t know the biological mechanisms yet, but researchers are working hard to shed light on these phenomena.

With this in mind, it is important to stay vigilant of any new symptoms even when you recover successfully from COVID-19. Be empowered with this knowledge and not afraid. Know that this disease can potentially have long term consequences and stay in touch with your primary care provider for any concerns.

(1) Article on Neuropsychiatric symptoms and potential immunologic mechanisms

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