Scientists predict that after the coronavirus pandemic, humanity may expect a surge in dementia and other mental disorders. Numerous studies are already showing that the coronavirus does affect the brain. As a result, almost all seriously ill patients have various neurological disorders: depression, headaches, episodes of confusion, and so on. The tenth version of the International Classifier of Diseases (ICD-10), according to which our country is also working, has already included the concept of “postcoid syndrome”. However, it is not uncommon in clinics that patients who suffer from such symptoms are not taken seriously. At best, doctors admit that they do not yet understand how they can help. At worst, it is advised to pull yourself together or look for a psychiatrist. Details – in the material “Lenta.ru”.
“You can't get sick so much!”
In December 2020, 40-year-old Muscovite Irina M. suffered from covid. She says she was diagnosed with 25 percent lung damage on CT. She was treated at home according to the scheme recommended by the doctor.
When Irina came with these complaints to the therapist, he prescribed her a referral for a general blood test, an ultrasound of the neck vessels and an electrocardiogram. The study did not show anything unusual.
A resident of Kursk, Natalya, faced similar problems.
According to Natalia, she is not officially sick with covid now – the last PCR test was negative. However, she notes that it does not get any easier for her – the temperature rises almost every evening, the pressure constantly jumps from low to high. But the most important thing is the “fog in the head”.
As explained to Lente.ru, the head of the department of cognitive impairments of the Federal Center for Brain and Neurotechnologies of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor of the Department of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Medical Genetics of the Russian National Research Medical University named after N.I. Pirogova Anna Bogolepova, according to scientific literature, about a third of patients with COVID-19 report neurological symptoms. The most common are headache, dizziness, muscle aches and loss of smell.
However, there can be extremely serious complications – acute disorders of cerebral circulation, acute necrotizing encephalopathy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, in which the immune system affects the peripheral nerves of a person.
According to Bogolepova, factors that potentially complicate the course of COVID-19 and contribute to the development of neurological complications are arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and chronic lung disease.
At the same time, Bogolepova emphasizes that all these data only suggest that such diseases will begin to spread in the human population, but no confirmation of this assumption has been obtained in clinical practice.
Photo: Evgeny Odinokov / RIA Novosti
Today, information about what happens to recovered people is accumulating all over the world. Many scientific institutes are engaged in the collection of information. The Sechenov Institute participates in the program of the ISARIC research consortium (International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium – International Consortium for Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infectious Diseases. It unites 52 research centers around the world). Recently, a Russian group published a preprint [non-peer-reviewed scientific article] of the first phase of the study.
Doctors analyzed the data of patients treated in the red zones of Sechenov university hospitals from April to July 2020. 2649 patients were interviewed, with an average age of 56 years. More than half are women. Many suffered from mild to moderate covid, severe – requiring intensive care, support for non-invasive or invasive ventilation of the lungs – among them 2.6 percent.
Six months after being discharged from the hospital, most of the respondents said that they continue to experience some kind of unpleasant symptoms. The most common complaints were fatigue (21 percent), shortness of breath (14.5 percent) and forgetfulness (9.1 percent)
The researchers hope that follow-up of recovered patients will continue – it is important to understand how long postcoid problems may persist. The researchers are confident that the results of their work will help to properly organize help for people with postcoid.
Problems without symptoms
Until recently, it was generally accepted that, in the main, the consequences of COVID-19 should be feared by those who suffered the disease seriously. However, according to Anchi Baranova, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor at the School of Systems Biology at George Mason University, not everything is so simple.
A preprint of a scientific article from the Netherlands has appeared in the Bioarchive [open archive of biological scientific papers]. A team of doctors infected eight monkeys of two different species with the SARS-CoV-2 virus to see what happens. They were sick symptomatically, rather mildly, after eight days the virus disappeared from their nasopharynx. The researchers then gave the animals labeled glucose and weekly PET scans. In two out of four monkeys of one of the species, shortly after “recovery” in the tissue of the pituitary gland, activity was observed, which can be conventionally called postcoid. This activity continued 35 days after infection with the virus.
After that, all the monkeys were killed and their brains were histologically examined. Some of the findings were quite expected – signs of mild neuroinflammation were observed in the brains of absolutely all eight monkeys. And only one of them had no problems with the central nervous system.
Photo: Arthur Lebedev / RIA Novosti
As Baranova notes, studies show that among people who have undergone mild covid and who subsequently did not notice any abnormalities in their health, neuropathology may still be present.
Many “postcovidians” try to go to private clinics and spend a lot of money looking for the cause of the ailment.
According to him, since the end of December, he spent more than 200 thousand rubles on visits to commercial clinics, on various vitamins and dietary supplements. However, the problems – persistent headaches, shortness of breath, increased fatigue – have not yet been resolved.
Professor Ancha Baranova urges patients with a “long covid tail” not to give up. At one time, exactly the same veil of mistrust surrounded the syndrome of chronic fatigue [fibromyalgic-encephalopathic syndrome]. There were few people in the state of “opened my eyes in the morning – I was already tired”. Since the tests, which are routinely prescribed during visits to medical facilities, were normal in patients, the doctors did not believe them, they suspected that they were a simulation. In the 1990s, many scientific articles were published on the topic that such a syndrome does not exist, and everything that patients describe is just hypochondria. It took almost 20 years for the pathology to be officially recognized.
Photo: Valery Melnikov / RIA Novosti
As the expert notes, doctors do not yet have real algorithms on the basis of which it is possible to diagnose postcovid and somehow treat, and this situation is also not new.
As an example, the biologist called the analysis for procalcitonin, which helps to distinguish a bacterial infection from a viral one. The treatments for these infections are completely different. Doctors almost never inform patients about this option, the study is prescribed only in special cases in specialized hospitals.
Similarly, there are different biomarkers for blood clots. One of the most interesting is RFMK (soluble fibrin-monomeric complexes). But it is not included in the standard coagulogram.