Is it true that the coronavirus damages the brain stem?

Despite the fact that in Russia and other countries of the world gradually lift the restrictions, the spread of COVID-19 remains alarming. According to the Center for disease control (CDC) in the United States, by the coronavirus in the country could get up to 25 000 000 people, and experts from the world health organization (who) remind us that the pandemic is still in full swing. We would like to tell you a good news, but the results of recent research of concern – coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 damages the brain, causing headaches, strokes and seizures.

The effects of coronavirus

Some scientists suspect that COVID-19 not only causes respiratory distress and lung damage, but other symptoms that are signs of brain damage. According to the results of previous studies, such as the work published in the journal New England Journal of Medicine, patients with confirmed Covid-19, was observed neurological symptoms ranging from cognitive impairment, ending the confusion. These are indications of “encephalopathy” (General term for brain damage) – the tendency that researchers in Wuhan noticed in patients in February.

The prevalence of neurologic disorders in patients with Covid-19, including mild symptoms, such as headache, loss of smell (anosmia) and tingling (Arcipreste), up to more severe, such as aphasia (inability to speak), strokes, and seizures in total have identified over 300 studies from around the world. And this is in addition to recent conclusions that new coronavirus may also cause damage to kidneys, liver, heart and almost every system of the body.

As writes The BBC Future, the growth in the number of confirmed cases Covid-19 will be visible not only common manifestations of the disease, but also unusual symptoms that the doctors have never encountered. Further complicating the situation is that many people suffering from the effects of the infection are tested, especially if they have a cough or high temperature. This means that if they have neurological symptoms, we may never know whether it was related to Sars-CoV-2.

There is a significant percentage of patients infected Covid-19, the only symptom of which is confusion. Cough and fatigue they have. We are faced with a secondary pandemic of neurological diseases.

Robert Stevens,
Anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins University.

It should be noted that most of the viral pandemics (including influenza) have a “U-shaped” curve of mortality, killing young and old. But in children Sars-CoV-2 usually causes mild symptoms. The new coronavirus also disproportionately affects men: up to 70% of patients admitted to intensive care around the world, were men,men and women were infected with the same frequency.

In General, over the past couple of months, the researchers learned that the disease affects various systems of the body: the patients can die not only from lung failure, but renal failure, thrombosis, pathologies of the liver and neurological manifestations. Stevens also notes that patients with Covid-19 seems to be missing the sensitivity to drugs that normally doctors use. However, the main question is: how the coronavirus affects the brain?

Coronavirus and the brain

Most researchers believe that the neurological effects of the virus is an indirect result of either oxygen starvation of the brain (the”happy hypoxia” observed in many patients), or a byproduct of the body’s inflammatory response (the famous “cytokine storm”). So, in Japan, researchers reported on the case of 24-year-old manwho was found unconscious on the floor in a puddle of his own vomit. He was beaten by cramps all over the body, and after hospitalization, the MRI showed signs of acute viral meningitis (inflammation of the brain). Lumbar puncture showed the presence of Sars-CoV-2 in the cerebrospinal fluid.

Chinese researchers also found traces of the virus in the spinal fluid of a 56-year-old man, suffering from severe encephalitis. A post-mortem examination of the patient Covid-19 in Italy, the researchers found viral particles in the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels of the brain. In some countries, such as France, the autopsy of patients Covid-19 strictly limited to (or directly forbidden), which makes Italian the find even more important and exciting.