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'Directly invades brain': Mental confusion, delirium new-found signs of coronavirus

'Directly invades brain': Mental confusion, delirium new-found signs of coronavirus

Coronavirus impact: The researchers found that there were increasing signs that coronavirus also impacts the nervous system, produces neurocognitive alterations as well as psychotic episodes

Mental confusion of delirium, along with fever, could be early symptoms of coronavirus, particularly in elderly patients. A research published in Journal of Clinical Immunology and Immunotherapy states that along with loss of senses of taste and smell, breathing difficulties and cough, one could develop delirium as well. If delirium is accompanied by high fever, then one should consider this as a mark of COVID-19.

"Delirium is a state of confusion in which the person feels out of touch with reality, as if they are dreaming. We need to be on the alert, particularly in an epidemiological situation like this, because an individual presenting certain signs of confusion may be an indication of infection," explained Javier Correa from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) in Spain. Correa carried out this study at the University of Bordeaux in France.

Correa's research with two UOC scholars reviewed scientific work published on the effects of COVID-19 in relation with the central nervous system. They found that there were increasing signs that coronavirus also impacts the nervous system, produces neurocognitive alterations as well as psychotic episodes.

"The main hypotheses which explain how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 affects the brain point to three possible causes: hypoxia or neuronal oxygen deficiency, inflammation of brain tissue due to cytokine storm and the fact that the virus has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to directly invade the brain," said Correa adding that these three have the potential to result in delirium.

Hypoxia-related brain damage has also been found on patients who succumbed to the infection. Hypoxia, which also causes the neuronal tissue to become inflamed and cause damage in areas such as the hippocampus leading to potential cognitive dysfunctions and behavioural alterations presented by patients suffering delirium, they said.

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