What are the neurologic signs & symptoms associated with COVID-19?
The most common neurologic signs & symptoms during an acute COVID-19 infection are headache, nausea, muscle aches, altered mental state, and lack of taste & smell.
Less frequent complications include stroke, seizure, motor and sensory disorders, meningitis, and encephalitis.
Are there long-term neurologic symptoms after recovering from acute COVID-19 infection?
“Long haulers” or patients with the recently coined term, chronic COVID syndrome, are people that develop or continue to have symptoms weeks to months after recovering from the acute phase of COVID-19 infection.
Early data reveals some patients post-COVID-19 infection continue to have neurological and psychiatric symptoms such as fatigue, headache, dizziness, memory difficulties, attention deficits, and confusion.
What causes these long-term neurologic symptoms?
Research studies are investigating whether the COVID-19 virus has a direct destructive impact on the nervous system, if it causes damage secondary to increased inflammation in the body, if it increases the risk of developing clotting in blood vessels leading to decreased oxygenation to the brain, or other mechanisms.
Who is at risk for developing these symptoms?
Studies have found that those most at risk of developing more severe complications, like stroke, are those older in age especially with existing risk factors such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Some physicians have noticed an increased incidence of persistent symptoms in younger patients who had mild symptoms during acute COVID infection, although more research is needed to determine the significance of this.
If I think I may be affected by the neurologic complications associated with COVID-19, who will help manage this?
Your neurologist can complete a clinical assessment based on a history and physical exam.
Although there are no treatments developed yet for specific post-COVID symptoms, your neurologist can create a management plan specific to your symptoms.
Research is currently being done to learn more about the virus’s impact on the nervous system and how to manage the associated neurologic complications.
Elkind, Mitchell, et al. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Neurologic complications and management of neurologic conditions. In: UpToDate, Goddeau, R (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2020.
Tan L, Lin ZC, Ray J, et al. Neurological implications of COVID-19: a review of the science and clinical guidance. BMJ Neurology Open 2020
Hurley, D. This COVID-19 Practice: Hundreds of ‘Long Haulers’ Presenting with Neurologic Complaints at Post-COVID-19 Clinics. NeurologyToday, 2020