How does COVID-19 affect the brain?
Biologists at the University of Georgia, USA, recently discovered that infecting the nasal areas of mice with the virus that causes COVID-19 led to rapid, growing damage to the brain, which triggered severe disease, even after the lungs had successfully fought the virus.
Assistant Professor Mukesh Kumar, the study’s lead researcher, said the findings have implications for understanding the wide range of symptoms and severity of the disease in people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As far as we know, we believe it is more of a respiratory disease, but it is not.
“Once it infects the brain, it can affect anything, because the brain controls the lungs, the heart, everything. The brain is a very sensitive organ. It is the central processor for the whole body, “said Kumar Mukesh.
Kumar also said that at the beginning of the pandemic, studies involving mice focused on the lungs and did not assess whether the virus affects the brain or not. Kumar’s team found that the virus levels in the lungs of infected mice peaked three days after infection, then began to decline. However, very high levels of the virus were identified in the brains of all affected mice on the fifth and sixth day, when the severity of the disease became evident, including shortness of breath, disorientation and weakness. The research found that the levels of the virus in the brain were about 1,000 times higher than in other parts / organs of the body.
These findings could explain why some patients with COVID-19 appear to be on their way to recovery, with improved lung function, only to become sick again and die. The present research, as well as other studies, suggest that the severity of the disease and the types of symptoms that different people experience may depend not only on the amount of virus they have been exposed to, but also on how the virus entered their body.
The nasal areas, he said, provide a more direct route to the brain than the mouth. And while the lungs of mice and humans are designed to ward off infections, the brain is poorly equipped to do so, Kumar said. Once viral infections reach the brain, they trigger an inflammatory response that can persist indefinitely, causing ongoing illness. It is thus explainable why these severe diseases with multiple symptoms, such as heart disease, stroke and signs such as loss of smell or taste are more related to the brain rather than the lungs.
The researcher also said that COVID-19 survivors whose infections reached the brain also have an increased risk of future health problems, including autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and general cognitive decline.
Given all the risks and problems, it is very important to try and stay away from this virus as much as possible and to have a strong immune system. Diet and lifestyle have a significant impact on immune functions, demonstrating in many studies that the high number of calories in processed and fast food products could lead to health problems. It is never too late to change our eating habits, especially now, that we have the Dahna app as an ally. You can download it on your phone for free from AppStore or Google Play.