A team of researchers from the Imperial College of London found that a growing number of patients who recovered from COVID-19 are suffering from "brain fog" and have seen their cognitive abilities diminish.
Patients who suffered the most severe symptoms of COVID-19 saw the largest mental decline. They found that people who were in the ICU or spent time on a ventilator saw their IQ drop by more than eight points. The effect was seen in patients who had mild symptoms as well, with some people who tested positive, showing a four-point decline in their IQ, which is the equivalent of aging five years.
"Individuals who recovered from suspected or confirmed Covid-19 perform worse on cognitive tests in multiple domains than would be expected, given their detailed age and demographic profiles," the researchers wrote. "This deficit scales with symptom severity and is evident amongst those without hospital treatment."
Several people detailed their cognitive decline to the New York Times. Lisa Mizelle, who works as a nurse, told the paper that she contracted COVID-19 in July but has been struggling with day-to-day tasks since recovering.
"I leave the room, and I can't remember what the patient just said," she said. "It scares me to think I'm working. feel like I have dementia."
Doctors are worried because more and more people are reporting similar symptoms, which can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty focusing, dizziness, and trouble speaking.
"There are thousands of people who have that," said Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious disease at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, who has already seen hundreds of survivors at a post-Covid clinic he leads. "The impact on the workforce that's affected is going to be significant.
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