By Nsunjo Erica
According to CNN, scientists say that the virus can lead to neurological complications like delirium, brain inflammation, and stroke, and nerve damage.
In a University College London study published earlier this month, 10 out of 43 patients had “temporary brain dysfunction” and delirium, while 12 had brain inflammation, eight had strokes, and eight had nerve damage.
Scientists say that how this virus damages the brain and nerves still isn’t totally clear, but two physicians dedicated to the study of the nervous system, they are yet to find the answers to find some answers.
According to scientific research, the brain is protected by a hard shell of bone, a bath of clear fluid, and a blood-brain barrier, which creates checkpoints before certain molecules are even allowed to enter but, the COVID-19 virus is still able to sneak into the central nervous system.
Among the most common neurological symptoms when the COVID-9 virus attacks your brain are loss of smell and taste, which could be the first clues that someone has Covid-19.
Other possible symptoms include headache, dizziness, and loss of consciousness, weakness, seizures, paralysis, strokes, and more, when the COVID-19 virus attacks your heart.
When the virus enters the body, through the nose and mouth, it’s possible the virus then potentially crosses the cribriform plate, the bone at the top of the nose, to reach the olfactory bulb that houses the olfactory nerve and its branches.
If the virus damages these nerves, a person can lose their sense of smell. If the virus also directly invades taste buds, it can prevent nerve fibers from transmitting signals to the brain and cause a person to lose their sense of taste.
Another hypothesis has to do with a protein receptor called angiotensin-converting enzyme known as ACE2 which is found in cells all over the body in the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, muscles, nose, and mouth. In the nose and mouth, the virus is thought to bind to ACE2 receptors in sensory nerve cells and block these cells from facilitating smell and taste.
ACE2 also helps maintain blood pressure and protects the heart and brain from damage. Its role is to lower levels of a molecule called angiotensin II. If angiotensin II levels build-up, blood vessels constrict and reduce blood flow to organs, potentially damaging them.
According to scientists, when the virus binds to ACE2 in blood vessels, it triggers an immune response sometimes referred to as a cytokine storm. Too much inflammation can impair the body’s clotting system and form millions of small clots or several large clots. Together with the higher levels of angiotensin II that constrict blood vessels, clots can block blood flow to the brain and lead to a stroke.
Additionally, too much inflammation can also break down the protective wall known as the blood-brain barrier and lead to brain swelling, seizures, or the spread of infection.
The novel coronavirus has turned out to impact many organ systems through the course of the disease, we’ve heard about the heart, lungs and respiratory symptoms, but a growing mystery is its impact on the nervous system.
According to scientists, the most important thing to learn is that whether it is the body, heart, lungs, or the brain, most symptoms don’t seem to come directly from the virus, but rather, the body’s overzealous immune response to fight the virus.