Huntsville doctor discusses COVID-19’s possible impacts on the brain

Huntsville doctor discusses COVID-19’s possible impacts on the brain
COVID patients showing neurological symptoms

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - As doctors continue to learn more about COVID-19, they’re discovering a possible connection between the virus and some troubling neurological symptoms.

National headlines recently reported some coronavirus patients were experiencing seizures, hallucinations and even changes in personality.

Leaders at Huntsville Hospital have likewise seen their COVID-19 patients battle similar neurological issues.

“We usually see varieties of stroke or altered mental status where they can present psychosis or confusion... also seizures,” says Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital.

The exact link between coronavirus and these symptoms isn’t exactly clear, but there are a number of possibilities.

“It could be when [patients] come, they have low oxygenation,” says Dr. Hassoun. “But actually, there are thoughts that the virus itself can cause infection into the brain or cause significant inflammation, and that inflammation can cause significant damage in the brain. Also, it’s well known that the virus can cause inflammation in the vessels and clots... and that can be part of an effect into the brain.”

Unfortunately, some of these symptoms may linger on even after a person has recovered from COVID-19.

“I still talk on follow-up with my patients, and some of them are still saying, ‘I still feel dizzy. I still feel forgetful. It’s foggy. It doesn’t seem normal anymore,‘” says Dr. Hassoun.

To make matters worse, there aren’t really any treatments for these apparent post-viral symptoms.

“We’re still learning about how much the virus affects, where it affects,” says Dr. Hassoun. “We really don’t have a good effective treatment, whether neurologically, renal, heart or lung...”

As a result, Dr. Hassoun continues to remind people to take COVID-19 seriously.

“It’s not necessarily just the virus... it’s what we call the post-viral effect,” says Dr. Hassoun. “And it’s major. It’s a really major, major issue.”

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