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COVID-19 may affect the entire nervous system of patients: Beware of these symptoms

Antimicrobial use during hospitalization suspected to be the cause of bloodstream infections in COVID-19 patients.

Neurologic symptoms, like headaches, seizures, and strokes may precede fever, cough or respiratory problems in COVID-19 infection, say researchers.

COVID-19 virus is more powerful than you could possibly imagine. The virus can affect the entire nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and the muscles of infected individuals and cause neurological dysfunction, according to a new study.

The research, published in the journal Annals of Neurology, also suggested that a SARS-COV-2 infection may show neurologic symptoms, like headaches, seizures, and strokes before any fever, cough or respiratory problems occur. After reviewing several studies, the researchers found that nearly half of hospitalised COVID-19 patients experience neurological symptoms like headache, dizziness, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, disorders of smell and taste, seizures, strokes, weakness, and muscle pain.

According to the researchers, COVID-19 can cause neurological dysfunction in many different ways. For example, the brain may suffer from a lack of oxygen, or from clotting disorders that may lead to strokes. In addition, the immune system response to the infection may cause inflammation that can damage the brain and nerves, the scientists said. However, they are not clear if the neurological problems are temporary or permanent.

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Study lead author Igor Koralnik from Northwestern University in the US believes that their findings may help physicians better diagnose, manage and treat the neurological symptoms of the disease.

What other complications can this disease bring along?

Most people infected with COVID-19 have mild symptoms that are manageable at home. But older people and those with underlying heath conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are more at risk for the serious form of COVID-19. Current evidence suggests that about 1 in 6 COVID-19 patients have serious health complications, including some that are life-threatening. Infection with the novel coronavirus can lead to a condition known as cytokine release syndrome or a cytokine storm, which is the main cause of many of the COVID-19 complications. This occurs when the infection triggers your immune system to flood your bloodstream with inflammatory proteins called cytokines, which can kill tissue and damage your organs, like lungs, heart, and kidneys. Below are some of the complications COVID-19 disease:

Acute Respiratory Failure

You may experience this symptom if your lungs cannot pump enough oxygen into your blood or/and take enough carbon dioxide out. Acute respiratory failure was the leading cause of death in many people who died of COVID-19.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs in your lungs become inflamed, making it harder to breathe. In some critically ill COVID-19 patients, their lungs were found to be filled with fluid, pus, and cell debris which made their bodies incapable of transferring oxygen to the blood to keep their systems working properly. It was a spike in pneumonia cases that first indicated COVID-19 outbreak in China.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is one of the most common complications among severe COVID-19 cases. Here the lungs of the patients are so badly damaged that fluid begins to leak into them and as a result, the body can't get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. Patients with this condition may need mechanical help to breathe such as a ventilator.

Acute Liver Injury

Most seriously ill patients also suffer from liver damage, resulting in life-threatening complications like acute liver injury and liver failure in some cases. However, the scientists aren't clear yet whether the virus harms the liver or if it happens for another reason. Acute cardiac injury, acute kidney injury, blood clots, septic shock and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children are also COVID-19 complications.

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