I know you are all probably tired of hearing this, but the mind and body are interconnected. You cannot talk about physical health without talking about mental and emotional health and vice versa. I can’t think of a time where this relationship has been better illustrated than during this pandemic. I’d like to use this opportunity to examine the biological effects that COVID-19 has had on our neurological health.
Let’s begin by looking at COVID-19 from a strictly neurological standpoint. It was confirmed very early on that this virus could infect our nervous systems. Anosmia, or loss of smell has been one of the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19. The working theory, based on several scientific studies, suggests that the virus is able to bind to sustentacular cells (cells that support the nasal nervous tissue) causing inflammation that leads to damage of the sensory neurons in the nasal cavity (Glasure, 2021). After the identification of anosmia in COVID-19, scientists began examining whether the virus was affecting other parts of the nervous system. Brain samples from deceased COVID patients have shown the presence of viral genetic material, confirming the spread of the infection to the brain. Once in the brain the condition can cause neuroinflammation leading to damage of nervous tissue and encephalopathy (brain damage; Nuzzo & Picone, 2020). Additionally, COVID-19 can cause damage to the portion of the circulatory system that feeds into the brain! This pathology has been shown to lead to meningitis (inflammation of tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and stroke (a condition in which brain tissue dies due to a severance of blood supply) pathologies (Mayo Clinic, 2020, 2021; Sheraton et al., 2020).
In the United States, each passing day feels like one step closer to normalcy. However, if we are to truly move forward we all need to get vaccinated as soon as possible! The more vaccinated people, the less opportunities for the current iteration of COVID-19 to spread and mutate. Each person that is vaccinated is another individual that can be removed from the equation. If you are unsure of where or how to get vaccinated and you live in the United States, text your zip code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 and you will be provided with a list of locations near you that offer appointments. Let’s eliminate COVID together!