coronavirus pandemic

Post-COVID ‘Brain Fog' May Be Caused by Changes in Spinal Fluid: Report

Researchers at UCSF are trying to figure out what causes brain fog for some people with long term effects of COVID-19.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Researchers at UCSF recently published a study that found those suffering from the post-COVID 'brain fog' condition had abnormalities in their brain fluid.

In a small study of 32 adults suffering from COVID brain fog, researchers found that brain fluid had elevated levels of proteins, suggesting swelling in the cranium.

Doctor Joanna Hellmuth, who is the lead researcher in the study said that they believe COVID-19 may have triggered an unusual immune system response among the people they're studying.

"The brain fluid is different in these individuals with covid related cognitive changes. It suggests broadly that there might be more than one misdirected immune response that might be happening,” she said.

This is an important finding – because it shows brain fog from long COVID is physical.

Instead of something triggered by anxiety or other psychological effects. It also means - they might be able to create medicines to treat it. Something doctors simply don't have right now.

"I’m seeing otherwise healthy people who got covid who are getting persistent cognitive changes afterwards,” said Hellmuth. “I'm seeing teenagers, I’m seeing people in their 20's, their 30's, their 40's, I’m seeing 80-year-olds."

Late last year, a public service campaign called "voices of long COVID" was launched to illustrate the disease's debilitating effects, even among young people. The goal of these testimonials is to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

Hellmuth's research on brain fog is not related to this campaign, but she agrees -the best way to reduce the chance of getting it - is to get fully vaccinated and boosted

"We do not know yet who is going to get these cognitive changes and who isn't. So, you really want to protect yourself. Because we don't know if they're going away,” she said.

Contact Us