Seven in ten long COVID patients suffer concentration and memory problems several months after their bout with SARS-CoV-2, new research from the University of Cambridge has found.
Long COVID Symptoms
There has been a growing effort to map out and understand the lingering symptoms present in long COVID-19 patients. The latest points to two symptoms that many patients struggle with several months after the initial onset of the coronavirus infection — memory and concentration problems.
University of Cambridge researchers reported last week that several long COVID sufferers experience brain fog and concentration problems. In a study they conducted, 78% of the 181 respondents reported having a hard time concentrating. Other participants also reported other issues.
About 69% of the respondents complained about experiencing brain fog or confusion. On the other hand, 68% reported forgetfulness, while 60% had difficulty finding the right words when they were talking.
Half of the participants said they had a hard time finding professionals who would take their self-reported symptoms seriously since most cognitive issues that come from COVID-19 are not given that much attention by the medical community.
To assess the symptoms, the participants were subjected to several tasks designed to evaluate their decision-making and memory. The team found that the results were consistent with memory problems, and the symptoms were more pronounced in patients who dealt with more severe symptoms of COVID-19.
Implications Of The Study
Among the total number of participants, 75% said their long COVID symptoms made them unable to work. Since the issues affected their memory and concentration, they struggled with performing their tasks efficiently.
According to the researchers, their study showed what could be a worrying impact on the society’s workforce amid the pandemic. They anticipated a “long tail” of workforce illness to cause problems should the medical community and governments continue to turn a blind eye to long COVID and its effects.
“Long COVID has received very little attention politically or medically. It urgently needs to be taken more seriously, and cognitive issues are an important part of this. When politicians talk about ‘Living with COVID’ – that is, unmitigated infection, this is something they ignore. The impact on the working population could be huge,” said senior author Dr. Lucy Cheke, a researcher in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology.
The team will move forward with the next phase of their study to further understand the cognitive effects of COVID-19 in adults. They are currently recruiting individuals for two new studies.
COVID and Mental Health
A study published in The Lancet Public Health journal early last week focused on the long-term effects of the coronavirus disease on mental health. The team found that bedridden patients were at high risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
The scientists called for “increased vigilance of adverse mental health development” among severe COVID-19 patients to better address the long-term effects of the disease on mental health.
Meanwhile, experts from the U.K. emphasized in February that vaccination was the key to preventing the incidence of long COVID. They said that based on their review of 15 studies, vaccinated people were less likely to develop long COVID than unvaccinated people.