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Long Covid symptoms: Suffering with memory problems and ‘brain fog’ may persist for weeks

Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children

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The health body says there are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection. These can include problems with memory and concentration, or “brain fog”. The NHS explains: “Brain fog can feel similar to the effects of sleep deprivation or stress. It’s not the same as dementia and does not mean structural damage to the brain.”

Brain fog is not a medical term but used to describe a range of symptoms including poor concentration, feeling confused and thinking more slowly than usual. Other signs include fuzzy thoughts, forgetfulness, lost words and mental fatigue.

The health body says: “People usually recover from brain fog. You may get similar symptoms after other infections, a minor head injury or during the menopause. Brain fog is also common if you have depression, anxiety or stress.”

It adds: “While recovering from coronavirus (COVID-19), some people experience brain fog. Symptoms may vary and change over time.

“It’s not just people who were hospitalised with coronavirus who can develop brain fog. It’s a common part of long Covid.”

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The NHS says anxiety, low mood and fatigue all play a role in affecting how your brain functions.

There are some things you can do to help manage your symptoms, according to the health body. These include:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take regular exercise, ideally outside
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Keep to a healthy weight
  • Try meditation
  • Take regular breaks
  • Do things you enjoy – for example socialising with friends and family
  • Stick within low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines
  • Stop smoking if you smoke

There are also some instances when you should speak to your GP practice, according to the NHS. These include:

  • Your brain fog is not improving
  • Brain fog is affecting your day to day life
  • You’re worried about your symptoms
  • You’re worried about possible long Covid symptoms in a child or young person under 18

The health body explains: “If the symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have.”

The Mayo Clinic says older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection.

The organisation says other common signs and symptoms that linger over time include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Dizziness when you stand
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) also explains that chest pain is a common symptom of COVID-19.

It says: “Some people are experiencing chest pain that lasts beyond their initial COVID-19 infection, or that starts in the weeks after they’ve had the virus.

“It’s important to remember that even if you have had COVID-19 and are now experiencing chest pain, it may not be related to the virus.

“If you experience any new type of chest pain, it’s important to get medical advice, as chest pain can be a sign of something more serious, like a heart or lung problem.”

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