25-year old patient with coronavirus has temporarily altered brain areas, brain scans show.
According to the WHO, known symptoms of coronavirus include symptoms of infection, coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, and other breathing-related problems. New evidence published in JAMA Neurology shows there could be another symptom.
The evidence found by doctors shows brain changes because of coronavirus. The findings show that the results of the changes are similar to that of anosmia which is a loss of a sense of smell.
This is a dominant symptom of coronavirus. It comes as a result of changes done by a coronavirus in brains.
Previously it had only been known that severe cases had the danger of leading up to pneumonia, multiple organ failures, and deaths.
people with existing health conditions are known to be more susceptible to the virus besides the obvious factor of age. Age has long been linked with the severity of coronavirus symptoms. CDC warns that older adults with underlying heart and lung conditions or diabetes are at risk of being severe case patients of the virus.
So far not much was known of coronavirus in brains until the new evidence presented in JAMA Neurology.
Also, read- What Kills a Coronavirus Patient?
The authors recount a case of a female Italian radiograph who displayed symptoms of coronavirus after helping in a Covid-19 ward. The woman had no prior significant history medically.
Her symptoms began with the novel dry mild cough but it proceeded to her losing a sense of smell and the ability to taste. These were treated as usual symptoms of any coronavirus patient.
The tests on the inner skin of her nose and chest scans, however, showed no visible abnormal changes.
No fever was observed in the patient and the symptoms remained mild. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan found, however, that her olfactory bulb, the structure in the brain needed for smelling showed an appearance of viral infection.
The loss of smell being a symptom of coronavirus, she was given a swab test. SARS-CoV-2 was discovered from the tests, confirming her a patient of Covid-19. After 28 days, she was given a follow-up scan but it found no abnormalities that were recorded earlier.
The clinical context of the matter made the doctors dismiss other reasons for inflammation in the patient.
The authors wrote, that previously no report confirms signal alteration in Covid-19 patients making hem compatible with viral brain invasion in their cortical region. In link to olfaction, this is the first report.
Considering the findings from MRIs and the changes found in olfactory bulbs, they speculate that the olfactory pathway could be invaded by the virus. This is enough to cause a sensorineural dysfunction in the olfactory region.
The authors do stress however that they require more testing and research to fully confirm this.
Also read- Diabetes and Dementia are New Risk Factors for Death by coronavirus in the UK
It is reassuring that the changes to the olfactory region of the brain are temporary says Prof John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience, UCL. The changes made by the coronavirus in brains is reassuring because it is not long-lasting.
He says it is noted from prior research that some cases who contract SARS-CoV-2 infection do develop psychiatric and neurological symptoms.
Studies have shown some cases of Covid-19 patients to also suffer from possible encephalitis(brain inflammation and swelling)
What is not known yet is how far the symptoms are because of infection by the virus in the brain. Whether these effects such as brain inflammation are triggered by the immune systems’ responses to the virus instead or due to stroke and blood more likely to clot.