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7 Warning Signs COVID-19 is in Your Brain

The insidious virus can cause major neurological conditions.
woman with closed eyes suffering from headache

You might think of the coronavirus as a respiratory illness—and you'd be right, it's a disease that attacks your lungs. But doctors, scientists and patients are discovering the insidious COVID-19 can also infect your brain, resulting in troubling neurological symptoms in people of all ages. Read on to discover the warning signs so you can seek help when necessary.


You Have a Stroke or Stroke-Like Symptoms

Young girl with pain in the elbow

If you are experiencing "trouble speaking and understanding; paralysis or numbness of the face arm or leg; or sudden problems seeing," per The Mayo Clinic, call a medical professional. Studies are showing strokes tied to COVID-19 are the result of increased clotting and even "young people without previous risk factors for stroke are experiencing…clots in the arteries of the brain," sometimes immediately, sometimes after 10 days of infection.


You Have Delirium

Doctor woman, medical professional doubt expression, confuse and wonder concept, uncertain future

If you're experiencing the dictionary definition of delirium—"an acutely disturbed state of mind …is characterized by restlessness, illusions, and incoherence of thought and speech"—then call your doctor as it may be a sign of COVID-19. "In some cases, patients were delirious even before developing fever or respiratory illness, according to Dr. Alessandro Padovani, whose hospital at University of Brescia in Italy opened a separate NeuroCovid unit to care for patients with neurological conditions," according to the New York Times.


You Have a Throbbing Headache

man massaging nose bridge, taking glasses off, having blurry vision or dizziness

A headache is one of the official COVID-19 symptoms listed by the CDC, along with fever and chills, a dry cough, shortness of breath and others. Broadway actor Danny Burstein suffered coronavirus and wrote about the trauma: "My friend described the headaches like a hammer inside his head that was trying to chip its way out. That's an understatement."

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You're Having a Seizure

Teenager trying to get back on her feet while receiving support from an elder

If you're experiencing "temporary confusion; a staring spell; uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs; loss of consciousness or awareness; or cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety or deja vu," as per the Mayo Clinic, call a medical professional immediately. Researchers from the University of Cincinnati reviewed neuroimaging and neurological symptoms in COVID-19 patients and found nine percent of their panel suffered a seizure.


You Have Dizziness

At least four percent of COVID-19 patients studied by the University of Cincinnati had dizziness. This may be caused by lower levels of oxygen reaching your brain.


You Have Lost Your Sense of Smell or Taste—and That's New

Bad taste of salad

One of the CDC's official symptoms, losing your sense of smell or taste is also a neurological condition. "Sense of smell most often diminishes by the third day of infection with the new coronavirus, and many patients also lose their sense of taste at the same time, a new study finds," reported WebMD.


You Have Altered Mental Status

Mature Woman Comforting Man With Depression At Home

If you experience "a change in intellectual, emotional, psychological, and personality functioning, typically accompanied by behavioral changes," as defined by ACP Hospitalist, you may have "encephalopathy," a catch-all term for a disease that affects the brain. One real-life example: A COVID-19 patient, a female airline worker, reported the New York Times, "was confused, and complained of a headache; she could tell the physicians her name but little else, and became less responsive over time. Brain scans showed abnormal swelling and inflammation in several regions, with smaller areas where some cells had died."

As for you: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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