Covid infection can lead to cognitive and memory problems, sometimes referred to simply as “brain fog”, as the virus attacks the spine.

To determine if brain fog is caused by similar cognitive conditions, a research team at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), examined the cerebrospinal fluid of Covid victims.

Some Covid survivors had elevated levels in their fluid, which suggested that inflammation was a result an the immune system’s response.

Although ‘long Covid” is an obscure condition, which can present in many different ways, scientists are gradually figuring out the details. Long-term side effects of the virus include inflammation in different parts of the body as part of an immune response.

Researchers found that 'brain fog' - or cognitive issues people face after a Covid infection - could be the result of antibodies and inflammation affecting person's cerebrospinal fluid. Many symptoms of 'long Covid' have been tied to inflammation of different organs as an immune response to the virus (file photo)

Researchers discovered that brain fog, which is a result of Covid infection and cognitive difficulties in people with it, may be caused by antibodies and inflammation. Many signs of long Covid have been linked to inflammation in different parts of the body as an immune reaction to the virus. File photo

“It is possible that the immune response, stimulated through the virus may be functioning unintendedly pathologically,” Dr Joanna Hellmuth (senior author) and the researchers from the UCSF Memory and Aging Center stated in a statement.

Researchers recruited 32 Covid survivors to the study, and published their results Wednesday in Annals of Clinical and Translational Nuology. No one of the Covid survivors had an intractable case that required hospitalization.

The study group included 22 patients who had cognitive difficulties after the infection. Ten others were used as control. 

On 17 of the participants who had lumbar punctures (where a needle is inserted in their spines to collect fluid), 13 experienced cognitive symptoms.

Ten out of 13 brain fog patients had abnormalities, with elevated protein levels and high prevalences of antibodies.

All four of those who received fluid testing and didn’t experience any cognitive symptoms, were positive for antibodies or high levels protein. 

Researchers are hopeful that the results of their research will be used to help scientists and physicians better understand brain fog caused by Covid infection. 

Brain fog can cause brain damage and even death.

‘They manifest as problems remembering recent events, coming up with names or words, staying focused, and issues with holding onto and manipulating information, as well as slowed processing speed,’  Hellmuth said of people struggling with brain fog.

An adult with perfect brain function may experience difficulty with basic cognition and memory.

They could experience problems in their daily lives and it can also affect their work performance. It can even stop someone from participating in their daily activities.

Long Covid can also cause brain fog. In the worst cases, severe fatigue can lead to bedridden patients for several months.

Some people also experience long-term anosmia/parosmia as well body aches and headaches. In rare cases, psychiatric symptoms may be present.

This condition is more common in those who have suffered from milder Covid cases. Therefore, younger and healthier individuals are at greater risk. 

‘A very large proportion of people who developed long Covid had relatively mild initial infections, and in some cases were even asymptomatic,’ Dr Noah Greenspan, a New York City-based pulmonologist who operates a long Covid clinic in the city, told

‘Conversely, while many patients who had severe initial infections, even winding up in ICU’s or on ventilators do have a prolonged recovery, I would not consider them long haulers in the same way as people who go on to develop new symptoms, additional symptoms, or worsening symptoms, weeks or months after recovering from their acute infection. 

“I have found that these patients are more likely to recover than long haulers.

Greenspan had previously stated to, that about 30 percent will get long Covid.