It's all in the mind
Proof
Before and after photos
The Oxford study
The old gray matter ain't what she used to be
Most affected areas
Tissue damage
Larger cognitive decline
More age, more damage
How much is lost?
Too early to tell
Questions remain
Cause and consequence
Cerebral atrophy
The why of Long Covid
Post Mortem research
A resourceful enemy
On the lookout
The devastating effects Covid-19 has on our brain
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It's all in the mind

Covid-19 has been a challenge for humanity since 2020. A virus of that type usually attacks the respiratory system, but a new study published by Nature reveals to what extent it can affect our brains permanently.

 

Imagen: Milad Fakurian / Unsplash

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Proof

There were several clues that the coronavirus affected our brain. Losing the sense of smell while being infected was one of them, along with other symptoms related to long Covid, such as constant fatigue and brain fog. A team from the University of Oxford has proven the suspicions about it.

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Before and after photos

The methodology of the study was very simple: A group of 800 people who previously were subjected to an MRI scan had another scan after they got infected with Covid-19. The team managed to discover some important changes in the brain.

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The Oxford study

The Oxford study was published in 'Nature' in March 2022 under the title 'SARS-CoV-2 is associated with changes in brain structure'.

Imagen: Milad Fakurian / Unsplash

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The old gray matter ain't what she used to be

The scientists found a “greater reduction in grey matter thickness” in the brain of those who had overcome Covid-19.

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Most affected areas

The most affected areas in the brain, according to the article published in 'Nature', are those associated with the olfactory pathways (orbitofrontal cortex and parahippocampal gyrus). However, the consequences of Covid-19 go beyond the sense of smell.

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Tissue damage

Researchers also found “greater changes in markers of tissue damage” in regions associated with the sense of smell and, overall, a reduction in brain sizes.

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Larger cognitive decline

More worryingly, the Oxford team also detected a "larger cognitive decline" after subjecting the group to tests similar to those applied to people with neurodegenerative conditions.

Image: NeONBRAND / Unsplash

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More age, more damage

Another important finding from the study: Those who were infected by Covid-19 who were older, tended to show bigger damage in the brain matter.

Image: Matt Bennett / Unsplash

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How much is lost?

Research revealed that, on average, people in the sample group lost 0.3% of brain mass. However, in some extreme cases, it could be as much as 2%.

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Too early to tell

However, the Oxford team considered that it was too early to tell if these damages to the brain are permanent or if they can heal with time and rehabilitation.

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Questions remain

The scientists also failed to mention if there's a correlation between the severity of Covid-19 and how much the brain is affected. Maybe lighter or asymptomatic cases have the same results as more serious infections.

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Cause and consequence

The study published by 'Nature' also highlights the possibility that the damage could be the consequence of “a degenerative spread of the disease via olfactory pathways, of neuroinflammatory events, or of the loss of sensory input due to anosmia”.

Image: Bret Kavanaugh / Unsplash

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Cerebral atrophy

In simpler terms, when Covid-19 affects our sense of smell, a part of the brain stops working. Even if the person can smell again, cerebral atrophy remains.

Image: Josh Riemer / Unsplash

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The why of Long Covid

This would back the idea that Long Covid with neurological symptoms has its origins in the aftereffects of the virus in the human brain.

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Post Mortem research

Before the Oxford study, previous research had found proof of the virus in brain tissue of people who had died of Covid-19, something unusual in respiratory infections. Also unusual was finding traces of the coronavirus in the heart and kidneys, which has also occurred.

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A resourceful enemy

The danger of the Coronavirus, as this and other studies have pointed out, resides in its ability to enter our bodies and spread out. Also, being able to hide the seriousness of the infection, such as with 'Walking pneumonia'. This condition only reveals its true range when it has caused a lot of harm.

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On the lookout

The Oxford research and many others serve as a reminder of the danger that coronavirus represents. The vaccine and other treatments have helped to mitigate the pandemic, but it's necessary to remain on the lookout. We still don't know the true scope of the damage caused by Covid-19.

Image: Adam Nieścioruk / Unsplash

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