COVID-19 can involve multiple organs including the nervous system. In a recent study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, 509 consecutive patients admitted with confirmed COVID-19 in a hospital network in Chicago, Illinois were examined for neurologic manifestations. The severity of COVID-19 and outcomes in patients with and without neurologic manifestations were compared.
Neurologic manifestations were present at COVID-19 onset in 215 (42.2%) at hospitalization in 319 (62.7%) and at any time during the disease course in 419 patients (82.3%). The most frequent neurological manifestations were:
- Myalgia (muscle pain) 44.8%
- Headaches 37.7%
- Encephalopathy (altered brain function) 31.8%
- Dizziness 29.7%
- Dysgeusia (altered sense of taste) 15.9%
- Anosmia (loss of smell) 11.4%
Strokes, movement disorders, motor, and sensory deficits, ataxia, and seizures were uncommon (0.2 to 1.4% of patients each). The bottom line, neurologic manifestations occur in most hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Encephalopathy was associated with increased morbidity and mortality, independent of respiratory disease severity.
Keep an eye on your residents who are recovering from COVID-19. Be sure they are eating, drinking, being social, aren’t complaining of headaches and dizziness, etc. These are all real adverse reactions and can result in unintended weight loss (can’t eat if you can’t taste or smell), falls (dizziness). Continue to journey through this challenging time, it will eventually end, honest! Stay the course, stay well, get vaccinated, mask up and stay tuned!