What do we know about Post-COVID-19 Neurological Syndrome (PCNS)?

The long-term impact of COVID-19 on the human brain is called Post-COVID-19 Neurological Syndrome or PCNS or more commonly known as long COVID.

Out of 665 million cases worldwide, nearly 50% of people with COVID-19 are at risk of developing PCNS. Research has also shown that recurring COVID-19 infections may increase the risk of developing PCNS. The risk this poses to brain health is substantial.

What have we learned about PCNS in the last three years?

  1. The symptoms of PCNS are similar to those experienced post-stroke and younger adults seem to be more at risk. They may include fatigue, myalgia, arthralgia, chest pain, altered taste or smell, brain fog, headache, memory difficulties, anxiety and/or reduced mood, muscle weakness and overall inability to work.
  2. According to the study published in The Lancet, half the people who have reportedly recovered from acute COVID-19 cite ‘disabling fatigue’. That is fatigue that lasts more than twelve weeks. 
  3. The same study explored the prevalence of persistent symptoms in a general post-COVID-19 population of 735,006 participants across 194 global studies. At least 45% of patients reported at least one unresolved symptom well after the COVID-19 diagnosis.
  4. Another recent study found that females with more than five early symptoms, shortness of breath and prior psychiatric disorders were all reported as potential risk factors for long COVID, although more research is needed in this area.
  5. The physical stress of infection might end, but COVID-19 patients can carry emotional scars from the experience, often in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A Chinese study revealed that 96.2% of recovering COVID-19 patients involved in the study had clinical evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is to be noted that this is the first study that considered the prevalence of PTSD symptoms in COVID-19 patients. 

There is still a lot of research to be done in this area, and we are extremely interested in the results from both a public health perspective and from the perspective of patient well-being.  Despite the perception that the pandemic has passed, it remains a distressing reality for the hundreds of thousands of people suffering from the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and their close associates. 

These 5 points only scratch the surface of the impact PCNS has on COVID-19 patients. But awareness is key. 

As the article in Pursuit put it so succinctly Understanding and treating the neurological effects of COVID-19, as well as the potential scale of the problem, is critically important as the pandemic continues in the coming months or even years.

If you or anyone you know is seeking advice on any symptoms you may be experiencing, our pharmacists can recommend GPs and specialists that could assist you. 

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates.

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