Breakthrough on Covid status leaving victims with symptoms similar to ‘traumatic brain injury’

Groundbreaking Australian research has found the main causes of one of the mysterious symptoms experienced by people suffering from long Covid – mental impairment caused by ‘brain fog’.

By identifying the nerve toxin responsible for the blurring in the brain experienced by long-term Covid patients, doctors say they will be able to test potential treatments for the disease and possibly discover new treatments for other cognitive damage.

However, the new research also highlights grim realities for those who already suffer from brain fog until treatment becomes available.

Long Covid is the general description of a range of longer term conditions suffered by some people infected with the Covid-19 virus and includes fatigue, fever, joint pain, cough, headache and difficulty to concentrate or think clearly.

Researchers have proven that brain fog is a real affliction and have pinpointed what they believe is its source in the body in studies of long Covid patients

Bruce Brew, a neurologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and the University of New South Wales, made the discovery with colleagues while studying the effects of long Covid.

Their work proves that brain fog is a real condition.

“It validates that there is an organic basis for cognitive impairment and gives us that focus – in the past there has been controversy over long Covid and its associated cognitive impairment,” Dr Brew told Daily Mail Australia .

“It gives us an explanation on the basis of cognitive impairment and gives us a goal.”

Brain fog refers to problems with memory, attention and executive function linked to other long-standing symptoms of Covid.

Dr Bruce Brew (pictured) has discovered the nerve toxins behind brain fog and says the long process of trying treatments can now begin

Dr Bruce Brew (pictured) has discovered the nerve toxins behind brain fog and says the long process of trying treatments can now begin

“There are drugs in development and testing in other diseases that may have an effect on this pathway. This gives us the opportunity to examine it much more carefully and perhaps explore other treatment options.

“These things (testing cures) are always frustratingly slow but with a purpose, hopefully we can speed this up with the support of other researchers around the world…

In a study by St Vincent of 128 patients over 12 months, researchers found that the cognitive impacts of long Covid can last over a year, and for some may even be permanent.

The study found that one in five patients had cognitive problems that could be traced to a particular pathway in the body.

When infected, the kynurenine pathway – responsible for balancing energy, mood and the immune system – can raise levels of two chemicals with detrimental effect.

System infections can potentially lead to increased quinolinic acid and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid.

The nerve toxin appears after part of the virus inhibits a crucial immune system response, with an increase in chemicals damaging nerve cells and later brain cells

The nerve toxin appears after part of the virus inhibits a crucial immune system response, with an increase in chemicals damaging nerve cells and later brain cells

Dr Brew said ‘pieces’ of the virus that should have been cleared after the patient recovered from Covid can continue to stimulate this pathway in the immune system and cause the problems associated with brain fog.

The pathway is designed to slow down the immune system once it has finished a job.

“It’s like someone is in a parking lot and they have their foot on the accelerator – it’s the immune system going into overdrive – and that lane has their foot on the brake, and the car is moving forward. , but it does a lot of damage to the brakes and to the car itself,” said Dr Brew.

Physical and mental exercises are used in the long Covid clinics to help patients gradually regain their strength (pictured, the new Sydney Clinic at St Vincent's Hospital)

Physical and mental exercises are used in the long Covid clinics to help patients gradually regain their strength (pictured, the new Sydney Clinic at St Vincent’s Hospital)

The process can cause detrimental and potentially irreversible nerve damage.

“It injures nerve cells, and long enough exposure will kill some brain cells,” he said, which can lead to longer-term brain impairment resembling “traumatic brain injury.”

“We don’t know to what extent long-standing Covid patients have fixed, irreversible damage as opposed to something that’s in the process of repairing ongoing damage.”

Daily Mail Australia previously reported revelations from Dr Brew’s peers, with a top doctor at St Vincent’s Hospital saying he noticed those who had more than five symptoms while infected with Covid were more likely to develop long Covid symptoms.

Dr Anthony Byrne also said that even the young and fit are not spared from the “highly variable and quite debilitating” condition.

“I saw a very functional young individual, he was in a high-flying position, who had Covid in December and he hasn’t been able to work since,” he said.

St Vincent's Hospital (pictured) has opened a clinic in NSW to treat long-term Covid patients and is monitoring patient progress

St Vincent’s Hospital (pictured) has opened a clinic in NSW to treat long-term Covid patients and is monitoring patient progress

This patient, Dr Byrne said, is unable to work because he suffers from sleep problems, crippling fatigue and his brain “isn’t working properly”.

This makes him unable to perform complex tasks and, on some days, even find words.

Both Dr Byrne and Dr Brew stressed that despite lockdowns being lifted and restrictions easing, Covid is not over yet, with its real impact going beyond hospital admissions.

“I think it’s a mistake to assess the impact of Covid on society solely on the number of ICU admissions,” Dr Byrne said.

‘Long Covid has a significant impact on the community and on individuals, and people need to get vaccinated – it seems to alleviate the problem of the long presence and severity of Covid – and at the same time recognize that it is not the last thing we can do is. We have to stay reasonable, ”said Dr Brew.

WHAT IS LONG COVID?

Long Covid is used to refer to coronavirus symptoms that persist for months after the original infection.

A person is considered to have long Covid if their symptoms persist for more than four weeks after the initial infection.

Sufferers may experience a range of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, brain fog, memory loss, and changes in taste and smell, among other conditions.

Source: Healthdirect.gov.au

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