In a 2021 study designed to describe prolonged COVID symptoms in more than 3,000 people from 56 countries, researchers found that 88% of respondents had symptoms of brain fog, such as cognitive or memory problems. During the first months after the onset of COVID-19, these symptoms showed an increasing trend and then began to gradually decrease. At the beginning of the seventh month after the onset of COVID-19, 55.5% of respondents reported cognitive problems such as brain fog.
In another study conducted in 2021, patients with long-term COVID brain fog were asked to describe their experiences. As in the previous study, most participants reported brain fog in the first few months after the onset of COVID-19. Participants were followed up by email for 4 to 6 months after the initial evaluation. Of those who responded to follow-up, 65% felt their brain fog symptoms were gradually improving.
A 2022 study investigated the rehabilitation of people with long-term COVID-like neurological symptoms and brain fog. The median duration of brain fog since the participants developed symptoms of COVID-19 infection was 14.8 months. After an initial evaluation, the participants were followed for 6 to 9 months. During follow-up, no significant changes in reporting of brain fog symptoms were observed compared to baseline, meaning there were no significant changes among the majority of brain fog patients. The researchers noted that the study participants’ quality-of-life measures remained lower than those of the general population.
According to published medical statistics articles on prolonged COVID brain fog, the symptoms could last for quite some time. Symptoms of brain fog tend to peak within a few months of infection with COVID-19 and generally improve over time. Recent studies have found that brain fog symptoms can last for more than a year after infection with COVID-19. Furthermore, studies have shown that more than 20% of patients with prolonged mental fogginess from COVID still did not improve their symptoms after one year.
Based on published medical articles on the symptoms of prolonged COVID brain fog, Long COVID Care Center concluded that the clinical manifestations of brain fog are as follows:
Neurasthenia, Memory loss, Attention disorder, Getting lost, Language disorder, Dizziness, Brain fatigue, Smell loss, Blurred vision, Tinnitus, Chronic headache
How to treat long-term symptoms of COVID-19 brain fog?
Patients are required to have a complete physical examination of their bodies, and in addition to routine examinations, they are required to undergo four other examinations.
The first element: do several more PCR tests to check if the result is positive.
The second element – to conduct a neurological examination, including functional magnetic resonance imaging magnetic resonance angiography of the brain.
The third item: In addition to basic blood tests, we evaluate thyroid hormones, zinc, ferritin, antinuclear antibodies, rheumatoid factor, and blood sedimentation rate.
The fourth element: Comprehensive cardiac function test.
For the main direction of Western medicine:
If the new coronavirus remains in the body, antiviral drugs like Paxlovid should be used as a priority. If there is no virus in the body, the drug is used from the perspective of reducing or eliminating the patient’s chronic inflammation, improving the metabolic circulation and immunological mystery of the patients. For example, rintatolimod (immunomodulator) and coenzyme Q10 + NADH (mitochondrial modulator) can be used to improve the immune system of patients.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
From the theory of differentiation of TCM syndrome and treatment, the treatment of prolonged COVID brain fog can obtain more accurate TCM syndrome differentiation and more suitable TCM formulas from of the next three steps.
(1) Carry out observation, smell, hearing, and traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis consultation, and consult the comprehensive physical examination report and four Western medicine special examination reports. Only in this way can TCM doctors obtain the most detailed information about patients’ illnesses to help them differentiate syndromes and treat patients’ conditions in the most accurate way.
(2) MTC doctors will classify and summarize the main symptoms, accompanying secondary symptoms, physical condition and diseased parts of internal organs of patients according to the most comprehensive information about the disease of patients. First, the main symptoms are the most unbearable symptoms of patients at present, such as dizziness. Second, the accompanying secondary symptoms, meaning the patient is experiencing other uncomfortable symptoms, such as an occasional chronic headache. Third, find out the physical condition of the patient, which means the current physical health status of the patient, what category does he belong to in the TCM constitution. For example, yang deficiency constitution, phlegm-damp constitution, qi deficiency constitution, blood stasis constitution, etc.
(3) TCM doctors, according to the above summary, combined with the internal organs and symptom-related meridians, comprehensively use TCM theory and practical experience to make TCM prescriptions for patients. If acupuncture and moxibustion are required, these programs will also be prescribed.
The theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is mainly based on: Zhang Zhongjing’s “Treatise on Fever Diseases”, “Synopsis of the Golden Chamber”, Huang Yuanyu’s “Four Sacred Hearts Fountain”, “Suspension of Fever Typhoid”, “Jinkui Suspension”, “Changsha Yao Jie”, “Treatise on the Spleen and Stomach” by Li Dongyuan and “Jingyue Quanshu” by Zhang Jingyue.
For the main TCM address:
(1) Banxia Tianma Pills are used to invigorate the spleen and remove dampness, reduce phlegm and wind, and decrease symptoms of dizziness.
(2) Mailuotong capsule is used to remove vascular congestion of the meridian.
(3) Xifeng Tongluo Headache Tablets are used to remove heat and toxic substances and reduce symptoms of chronic headache.
Acupuncture program taught by the TCM: electricity is exerted to heat the moxibustion apparatus and apply moxibustion to the following acupuncture points.
(1) Baihui, Ashi, Shenshu and Guanyuan points to improve brain metabolism.
(2) Stick Clear Brain Fog Vapor patches on the neckline of clothes to eliminate symptoms of brain fog, dizziness and tiredness.
Disclaimer: The suggestions, guidance, protocols and documents transmitted by Long COVID Care Center to patients can only be used as a reference for patients to understand their illnesses in many aspects, but cannot be directly used as a treatment plan. Patients should discuss their symptoms with doctors at local hospitals through face-to-face communication.