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Covid delirium: How Covid attacks brain; know common symptoms

Covid delirium, more common among elderly, can affect young people too and is caused by the body's reaction to the Covid-19 virus. Covid delirium happens when a person slips into a state of confusion, agitation and is not able to think clearly. As per the study posted in the journal JAMA Network Open, it is the sixth most common presenting symptom in all patients. Long term hospitalisation, steroids, different combination of medication slows down the neural activity. Covid-19 just like a lot of body function affects brain too.


"The neurons within a person’s brain may be harmed by the virus. ACE2 receptors, receptors that are contained within a brain’s neurons, are very similar to the receptors found in the lungs. This might serve as a point for COVID to attack certain cells in the brain too, says Dr Milan Balakrishnan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.

"Due to lack of oxygen, Covid patients may face delirium. This is because the COVID virus primarily affects the lungs, which ultimately causes an effect on the oxygen level parameters. Also, maybe because the body of a COVID-infected person may overreact to the virus as a response mechanism to fight back, there may be the development of inflammation, which can cause the blocking of blood to the infected person’s brain," added Dr Balakrishnan.


- It may put patients at risk for memory impairment, brain fog, confusion, and lack of focus and concentration. Happy hypoxia is a case that develops due to a severe fall in oxygen saturation. Some neurological diseases and brain damage can aggravate this dangerous dip in oxygen levels.

- It also puts people at risk for mood disorders like depression. It may also trigger psychosis in some patients.


As per the study on Covid's neurological manifestations published in the journal, Neurology, there are certain indicators for early signs of brain damage. These indicators cited include confusion, agitation, and some neurological complications.

"The Journal of Clinical Immunology and Immunotherapy found that delirium development also depends on other mild-neurological symptoms. These can be a loss of sense of smell or taste which may increase risk. Delirium and brain fog are both very critical symptoms that can be caused due to Covid. A decline in brain function is already a registered concern, but the fact that Covid can aggravate this is now another serious concern. People facing symptoms should seek immediate and necessary therapy at the earliest stages possible to allow prevention and early treatment of the same," says Dr Balakrishnan.

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