Brain Shrinkage Reported As Side Effect Of COVID

( A new study a few years in the making has brought back some interesting and potentially devastating results.

People who have been infected by COVID-19 could suffer brain damage — even if they had a mild case of the virus.

The study was conducted in the United Kingdom on older adults. Those who were infected by the coronavirus sustained damage in their brains — including having their brain tissue health affected, having their ability to perform various complex tasks impaired, and seeing a reduction in the amount of grey matter in the brain.

The study showed that the changes that were seen in these patients’ brains after they were infected were rather subtle. The results showed small differences in the brain of people who were infected and people who were not infected.

That being said, researchers said the results were significantly statistically. More than 95% of the people who participated in the study had either asymptomatic or mild COVID-19 infections that didn’t require them to be hospitalized. Still, the brain damage was recognized in them, showing that the simple presence of the virus in the body was responsible for the changes their brains underwent.

The lead author of the study was Gwenaelle Dounaud, who serves at the University of Oxford as a neuroimaging expert. She recently told Business Insider:

“We are not talking about gross pathology here, that a neuroradiologist would be able to immediately identify looking at the scan. We’re talking about subtle differences of 0.2% to 2%.”

The researchers were only able to identify these subtle changes in the brain because they scanned the 785 study participants’ brains twice. One scan occurred before the pandemic and once happened in 2021, after roughly half of them were infected with the coronavirus.

Dounaud said that the differences in the brains of those who were infected with COVID-19 might equate to about one to 10 years of extra aging. The most pronounced brain changes were observed in the older patients who participated. Infection apparently further impaired their ability to perform some complex tasks.

As Dounaud explained:

“It is, to some extent, quite a scary result because 96% of our participants had mild infection.”

The remaining 4% of participants had a severe enough infection that required them to be hospitalized.

This study is another in a line of research that’s finding that the severity of an infection for COVID-19 isn’t the best indicator of consequences that could arise over the long term for people who are infected.

The people who participated in the study were all between 51 and 81 years old. All were also infected in 2021, before either the Delta or Omicron variants emerged. It’s also likely that most were not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Most of the participants studied lost their sense of smell when they were infected, and the researchers found the biggest changes in their brains in its olfactory areas.

Dounaud concluded:

“But, we also saw some global changes in the overall size of the brain, which had shrunk a bit more.”