(NEXSTAR) – One of the most common symptoms of prolonged COVID may be ignored by people who have it, worries Dr. Monique White-Dominguez, a doctor at Sameday Health in Los Angeles. She fears that brain fog is usually underdiagnosed because people are unaware of the symptoms.
“The defining feature that many patients mention is the inability to fully concentrate,” White Dominguez said.
Aside from losing attention, another important thing to pay attention to is your memory, the doctor said. “It seems to have suffered the most from short-term memory, the ability to remember what I just did 35 minutes ago.”
The brain fog may look and feel differently depending on the person, but White Dominguez suggests trusting your intuition and noticing whether the mental “sharpness” you had before COVID decreases.
“It could be someone who was a really healthy, successful manager under the age of 20 who thinks,‘ Oh, shoot, I forgot about this meeting. I even had eight different reminders on my phone, and I still couldn’t remember it. ”
If you are cured of COVID and any of this sounds familiar, White Dominguez suggests contacting a primary care physician to discuss your symptoms, perhaps do some tests and look at treatment options. Brain fog and other long-term symptoms are possible outcomes of both mild and severe cases of COVID.
Treatment will vary from patient to patient, she says, and more research is needed on how to specifically target nerve symptoms. Currently, much of the treatment is aimed at improving overall health and well-being.
Dr. Andrew E. Budson, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, recommends classes that help memory and brain health in generallike frequent exercise, a healthy Mediterranean-style diet and plenty of sleep.
Much more research is needed to detect and treat the fog in the brain, White Dominguez said, but the first step is to detect it. She is worried about the recent surge in COVID cases, many people may have long-term consequences if they ignore.
“Intercede for yourself, know if you don’t feel right, [and recognize when] it’s not a headache or a migraine. It’s not my anxiety and it’s not my depression. I don’t feel good, I’m not sharp. I don’t remember what I did 30 minutes ago, and it’s abnormal, ”she said.