Science

Covid-19 can lead to neurological consequences: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on September 25, 2020 Published on September 25, 2020

Researchers are exploring the connect between coronavirus and Parkinson’s disease; loss of smell is a common factor in the two disease

A team of researchers at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health are examining the neurological consequences of the novel coronavirus. Their preliminary study was published in IOS Press.

Researchers are trying to explore the link between coronavirus and increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Although researchers are yet to conclude how the virus affects the central nervous system, their best understanding is that “the virus can cause insult to brain cells, with potential for neurodegeneration to follow on from there”.

Researchers highlighted their work on the potential long-term neurological consequences of Covid-19, dubbing it the ‘silent wave’.

Also read: Covid-19 can adversely affect hearts of children: Study

Researchers have called for an urgent examination to identify neurodegeneration early on and for a long-term monitoring approach for people who have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

According to researchers, the neurological symptoms in Covid-19 positive people ranged from severe, such as brain hypoxia (lack of oxygen), to more common symptoms such as loss of smell.

Florey researcher Leah Beauchamp explained in the study: “We found that loss of smell or reduced smell was, on average, reported in three out of four people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While on the surface this symptom can appear as little cause for concern, it actually tells us a lot about what’s happening on the inside and that is that there’s acute inflammation in the olfactory system responsible for smell.”

Also read: Coronavirus can attack 21 different regions of the brain: Study

Researchers stated the loss of smell following contracting the virus can be an early signal for Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers maintained that loss of smell is present in around 90 per cent of people in the early stages of Parkinson's disease and a decade ahead of motor symptoms.

“By waiting until this stage of Parkinson’s disease to diagnose and treat, you’ve already missed the window for neuroprotective therapies to have their intended effect. We are talking about an insidious disease affecting 80,000 people in Australia, which is set to double by 2040 before even considering the potential consequences of Covid-19, and we currently have no available disease-modifying therapies,” said Professor Barnham at Florey Institute.

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Published on September 25, 2020
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