These problems occur in people after Kovid.
Covid, which came in the year 2020, caused chaos not only in India but all over the world. Although many vaccines have now come to deal with this disease, but people infected with this disease are facing many problems even after recovering. Cognitive tasks or skills, such as the ability to remember old things, focus on tasks, or difficulties in finding the right words in a conversation, are commonly reported after a Covid infection.
These symptoms are often referred to as 'brain fog', and are especially common in people who have long-term or persistent symptoms called long Covid.
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According to the latest census of March 2023, there were 10 million people with long-term Covid in the UK who reported difficulty concentrating, and nearly seven and a half million people reported memory loss or confusion.
In the short term, symptoms of brain fog can affect people's ability to carry out their normal daily tasks, such as functioning and child care, and reduce their quality of life.
In the long term, mild cognitive impairment can develop into more serious conditions such as dementia. Covid infection has generally been linked to an increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
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So to help people in the short and long term, it is important to understand the nature, size and duration of the effects of brain fog and prolonged Covid on cognitive function in general.
Nathan Cheetham (Senior Postdoctoral Data Scientist, Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, King's College London) explained that, in a new study, my colleagues and I set out to understand whether Covid infection, and symptom duration, affect performance in cognitive tests, and how test performance has changed over time. We found that the condition of people with persistent symptoms remained worse in these trials for two years after Covid infection.
To test cognitive skills, we invited participants to the Covid Symptom Study Biobank to complete a series of 2021 brain-training-style tasks online in July 2022 and again in April 12. In the first round, more than 3,300 people completed the trial. Another 2,400 completed the second round, of which 1,700 had also participated in the first round.
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The Covid Symptom Study Biobank is a study that began in 2020, recruiting people from the Covid Symptom Study smartphone app (now the JADOE Health Study) that tracks symptoms and Covid tests. The study involved more than 8,000 people who already had a history of Covid infection and who had short- and long-term Covid symptoms.
The tasks were aimed at focusing on multiple areas of brain functioning, including visual memory, attention, verbal reasoning and motor control. Some tasks involved memorizing words and shapes after a delay of less than a minute or after a long delay of about 20 minutes.
Other tasks included looking at the sequence of numbers that appeared on the screen and then repeating the sequences, clicking on the dynamic 'BullsEye' target, and deciding whether pairs of words had the same meaning. Similar versions of the trial are available for anyone to try online.
We then recorded how accurately people completed the tasks and what their reaction time was.
What we found
When we compared how accurately people with or without a history of Covid completed the test in the first round, we saw that people with the infection had lower scores on average across 12 tasks.
On deeper learning, we found that the impact of Covid on test performance was greatest for those with a long symptom duration of more than three months. These people meet the criteria of getting Covid for a long time.
By also testing how other factors affected test scores, we were able to tell how big an impact Covid had. For example, we saw that older people and those experiencing psychological distress scored lower on tests.
For the longer Covid group, the effect was equivalent to a ten-year increase in age, or experiencing mild to moderate discomfort without any discomfort. However, the impact of Covid on test scores was not as large as other factors such as education level.
When we considered how people felt about recovering from Covid, we saw that people who were no longer symptomatic and felt "back to normal" did not perform significantly worse on tests than those who did not already have Covid.
This was also true for people who had symptoms for more than three months, which is good news. But it is important to note that of the six people who had persistent symptoms, only one felt completely recovered.
People who had Covid, including those who had symptoms for more than three months, were not slower than those without infection. This was another positive thing, as a slower response could be a sign of more severe cognitive impairment over time.
In the second round of testing, we did not see any significant change in test performance. This means that the groups with low scores in 2021 were still feeling the impact of Covid on their brain functioning in 2022, two years after their initial infection.
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Boundaries and where to go ahead
It is important to note some limitations in our study. We do not have pre-Covid test results for people, which has limited our analysis to comparing results across different groups.
In addition, our participants were mostly women, and the proportion of people coming from white backgrounds and living in more affluent areas was higher than the UK general population.
However, our study demonstrates the need to monitor and assist people whose brain function is most affected by Covid.
Disclaimer: This content, including advice, provides general information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
(This story has not been edited by the NDTV team; it has been published directly from the Syndicate feed.) )
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