Covid-19, how and why coronavirus can cause neurological problems

Covid-19, how and why coronavirus can cause neurological problems

Neurologists suspect that coronavirus may have consequences on the nervous system after some time

The Sars-CoV-2 infection presents new aspects every day, which affect the ability of the invisible enemy to attack different parts of the human body. If at first you could only think about pneumonia, then you saw the involvement of the cardiovascular system and coagulation, to get to the skin and improper reactions of the immune system.

Today it seems certain that neurologists will also face the consequences of the infection, as confirmed by a letter signed by young Italian postgraduates at the Auxologico Institute in Milan published in Neurological science.

Not only changes in taste and smell

In the first weeks it has been seen that, in many cases, Covid-19 also begins with manifestations that affect the nervous system, through the sense organs, so much so that alterations in taste and smell, ageusia and anosmia, are on the agenda for many people. Even the loss of these two senses can remain for some time even after the body and the treatments have eradicated the infection.

However, other research emerges from the research of young interns working in Milan. In fact, even more serious phenomena such as stroke, encephalitis, pain and very tired muscle fatigue have been reported.

The interpretation of neurological manifestations in the individual patient is of great interest. These appear to be related in part to the invasion of the virus through the nasal passages, the co-expression of the now known ACE2 receptor, both in the lung and in the nervous system, as a receptor for Covid-19. In this sense, the chain of inflammatory phenomena that could somehow also involve the nervous system could be opened.

What neurologists suspect is that coronavirus, in some complicated cases, does not exhaust its damage in acute disease, but may instead have consequences on the nervous system after some time, as indeed also happens with other types of viruses.

"Cerebrovascular pathology in Covid-19 – explains Vincenzo Silani, professor of neurology at the University of Milan and director of the Neurology Unit of the IRCCS Italian Auxological Institute of Milan – how peripheral nerve pathology must be reinterpreted and there is a real possibility that patients with Covid-19 need to be followed over time to rule out the possibility of late complications, in particular neurodegenerative diseases. Patients often report myalgias (ie muscle pain) and even the skeletal muscle may reveal some surprises over time. "

The risk of specific cadres

Although very rarely, pictures of Guillain Barré syndrome have been described in Italy in patients with Covid-19 hospitalized in several hospitals. This pathology leads to the lack of activity of the neurons that coordinate the muscles, preventing certain muscle groups from contracting normally and may be due to a difficulty in transmitting the electrical signal through the nerve cells.

"Early recognition of this syndrome in patients with Covid-19 is very important, both because the weakness of the respiratory muscles can further compromise the respiratory function of patients already suffering from pneumonia, and because the deficit can often improve a lot, up to regression, with specific therapies "- reports Massimo Del Sette, vice president of the Italian Society of Neurology.

"In these months of pandemic and from the experiences of Chinese doctors we learned that the virus is able, through different pathogenetic mechanisms, to present itself also with neurological manifestations that must be recognized and diagnosed in time with the appropriate tools (specialist neurological examination, electroencephalogram, CSF examination, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain), also to correctly finalize and direct therapies ".

Category: Health
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