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We do not yet fully understand how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, affects the body long-term. But according to multiple studies over the past year, it’s already clear that some people experience cognitive impairment, such as ‘brain fog’ and trouble remembering, after they’ve cleared the infection.
Alzheimer’s experts are now looking at these neurological Covid symptoms to figure out if there’s an overlap with Alzheimer’s disease. One new study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that people who had a persistent loss of smell during COVID-19 were more likely to have persistent cognitive issues: three to six months after they were infected, more than half of the patients over 60 years old in the study still struggled with forgetfulness, and about 25 percent experienced additional cognitive challenges with language similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
It’s important to understand that the new data doesn’t suggest COVID-19 increases someone’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It’s also too soon to know whether those cognitive changes will be permanent or might reverse.
The research presented at the conference is based on short summaries of completed research. Those studies have not been peer-reviewed or published in medical journals.