Since the world is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers started to identify the underlying cause and find an effective treatment for the infection. Besides that, experts were also searching to see if it is associated with other diseases and infections.
A few studies carried out by Alzheimer’s Disease International revealed some thoughtful points. According to them, Covid and Dementia cases are showing bidirectional links, particularly among the covid-infected individuals. They said that the risk of developing Dementia is significantly higher among those diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier. The result of some studies also showed that Covid infections are making infected people vulnerable to Dementia. It suddenly caused an urge to conduct research and find if the statement is correct. In case it is, the whole world should prepare for another outbreak.
Several types of research are carried out in this regard to observe how Covid and Dementia appear alongside. However, the results obtained until today are not enough to conclude. Therefore, the experts are emphasizing to look into this matter on an urgent basis. Therefore, we will share some helpful information with you through this article. All data and information are based on a research’s result done in Singapore. However, scientists are required to search more to give us a correct and proven statement.
To understand how Covid and Dementia are linked, we studied both of the diseases separately. So, before we head to know the thoughts and perspectives of experts, here is a brief introduction of these two diseases to help you relate to them easily.
What Is The Target Organ Of Coronavirus?
As we all know, Coronavirus spread as an outbreak in late 2019. Starting from China, the infection spread all around the world within a few months. Since the China variant of Coronavirus came, it has altered its composition many times. Virologists say it is common for a virus of any kind to change or mutate due to different factors. Be it developing resistance to drugs or any environmental factor supporting its growth. The same happened with Coronavirus. And till now, we have had four variants of SARS-CoV-2 in other regions of the world.
The information from experts about this infection tells us that this virus targets our respiratory tract. The infection may be mild to critical, depending on different factors, such as age, immune response, etc.
The symptoms usually caused by the infection of Coronavirus include:
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
- Loss of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Chest pain
- Chills sometimes with shaking
Above are the common symptoms associated with Coronavirus. It may take up to 5 or 6 days to appear the symptoms after getting infected. This duration may also extend up to 14 days.
It is also observed that Coronavirus may lead to developing other complications among the infected population. These include pneumonia, respiratory failure, heart problems, liver problems, etc. It may transmit by having close contact with the infected person and touching the surfaces contaminated with the virus, then touching your mouth, nose without washing your hands. In addition, the droplets of Coronavirus may present in the air due to the coughing and sneezing of the infected individual. If a healthy person comes in close, physical contact with that person uses their belongings or shares the room; he is at a higher risk of catching the disease by inhalation of the virus.
Maintaining your hygiene is the best thing to adopt to limit the spread of the disease.
Which Body Part Affects In Dementia?
Dementia is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder. The disease originates in the brain affecting the communication of brain cells. The brain is the command center of our body. So if it is affected, the entire environment of our body is going to alter.
The human brain is a complicated organ having various parts to perform different functions. In Dementia, certain parts of our brain are affected, lead causes difficulty in completing tasks, interpretation, and individual performance.
The functions that are most likely to deteriorate due to Dementia include:
- Reasoning, judgment, and problem solving
Some people often confuse Dementia with memory loss due to aging. However, it is not necessary that Dementia only occurs with aging. The symptoms of Dementia may also appear at an early age (i.e., 30 years). Alzheimer’s is one of the preeminent causes of Dementia. Certain factors that may increase the risk of developing Dementia symptoms in adulthood are family history, poor heart health, and severe trauma. Unfortunately, there is no remedy for Dementia to date.
Healthcare Professionals and Their Concern On The Co-Occurrence of Covid and Dementia
The Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), Paola Barbarino, a Dementia expert, stated his concern. She said that Dementia experts worldwide are concerned about this new research and want to find the link between Covid and Dementia. Moreover, the Alzheimer’s Disease International is insisting the WHO and all governments speed up the research on this new finding.
Barbarino has also pleaded with the World Health Organization to announce more funds for this research to carry out their work. According to her, if we don’t take precautions, Dementia may occur as another pandemic in the future/coming time. Therefore, she urged the need to find the link between Covid and Dementia on a priority basis.
They say that it will help us reduce the prevalence and manage the symptoms early.
Covid and Dementia
What Do Experts Say?
There is a group named the Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel consisting of Dementia experts from all over the globe. It has made a working group continue to research and find solutions to this newly emerging threat.
Dr. Alireza Atri is a cognitive neurologist and chairperson of the above advisory panel. He also showed his concern for the effects or damages that the long-term Covid infection may cause. He said that loss of smell or taste is one of the symptoms caused by Coronavirus, which they call ‘Brain fog.’ The long-term occurrence of infection often causes these symptoms to appear in the patient. It also affects an individual’s mental health, leading to a loss of understanding. He further added that it also seems to interfere with communication, concentration, thinking, and memory.
Another explanation showed up from Atri highlighting the link between Covid and Dementia. Coronavirus may also cause damage to the microvessels in the brain via clotting. In addition, blood clotting causes severe damage in various cases. Also, this infection has a significant impact on our immune system and may trigger a series of inflammation reactions occurring in the body.
All the above effects are considered a potential risk for the infected people to develop neurological disorders even after recovering from the COVID-19. Many experts are calling out Dementia as the most likely disorder to develop earlier.
What Is The Spread Ratio of Covid and Dementia?
As we saw, the mortality rate in a population infected with COVID-19 is higher who were also suffering from other diseases. Therefore, experts say that estimating the exact number of people affected by Covid and Dementia is impossible. However, there is a high chance of people dying from COVID-19 who also had Dementia in parallel.
Hence, obtaining accurate data was not possible.
It is also reported that up to 45% of the deaths caused by COVID-19 were those who had Dementia. Therefore, the analysts may not estimate the number of people having Dementia, and we will see an unusual change in reporting Dementia cases. However, after a particular time, it may show a spike up.
According to the current figures issued by WHO, 10 million cases of Dementia report every year globally. Also, the registered number of people who are suffering from Dementia is 50 million.
In another data collected by Johns Hopkins University, 217 million people have become victims of COVID-19 since its emergence.
What Do We Conclude?
The research is still in the process of determining how exactly Covid and Dementia relate to each other. Till then, the association between Covid and Dementia is an unproven hypothesis. Scientists and healthcare experts need to collect data on the broad term.
However, we should take care of people around us who are becoming victims of COVID-19. Prevention is a cure until we find a better solution. Vaccines are also available all around the world for COVID-19. Therefore, we all must get vaccinated as soon as possible. When a significant population receives their doses, the spread of the Covid-19 is sufficiently reduced. Once our immune system becomes resistant to the potential cause of infections, the symptoms won’t be severe even if we get the infection. Ultimately, the likelihood of diagnosing with Dementia may also be decreased.