Rutgers team tries to understand ‘brain fog’ COVID connection

Coronavirus

Coronavirus delta variant. (File/Getty)

Dr. William Hu, the Chief of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is leading a team trying to figure out what brain fog is. 

You may have experienced it. Something may feel a little off, fuzziness or fatigue inside. Maybe a lack of clarity in your thinking. Or maybe something different that impacts your memory. 

Since COVID-19 hit us, brain fog has gotten a lot more attention. It’s often a complaint of so-called COVID long haulers, people who experience symptoms long after they’ve otherwise recovered from the virus. 

“Some people…after they recover from COVID, it just takes them much longer to do the same things,” Dr. Hu told PIX11.  “Other times people is complaining about feeling like they’re in the middle of a fog.  So you just feel that sluggishness and you can’t think right and you don’t feel right.” 

Dr. Hu says there can also be an aspect of forgetfulness, which can be more troubling to patients.

“Very similar to some of the more worrisome age-related diseases like we’ve seen,” Dr. Hu said.

In assessing “brain fog” problems, it’s important to try to factor out non-COVID causes such as age, sleep and stress.

“But some people, even after you account for those factors, continue to have persistent memory and thinking problems that interfere with their schooling, that interfere with their work. And then we really want to figure out why this is happening,” Dr. Hu said. 

The evidence so far suggests that “brain fog” may have something to do with inflammation. But what’s causing the inflammation? 

“We want to treat the causes,” said Dr. Hu.  “And sometimes it’s about prevention.  Maybe there is something we could have done when someone has active Covid that can prevent the onset of “brain fog” afterwards.” 

Dr. Hu told PIX11 the research study he’s conducting is always looking for people who want to participate.  If your only remaining symptom from COVID is “brain fog” and you’re interested in helping science learn how to treat it, you can get more information by emailing Dr. Hu’s team at Memory411@Rutgers.edu. 

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