First-Hand Reports Of “Brain Fog” Highlight Struggles Of Those Living With Long Covid

Around one in five of those who have recovered from Covid-19 report ongoing symptoms, also known as long Covid. Experiences with this new condition are varied, and several symptoms are neuropsychological in nature.

One such symptom is brain fog. Though not a medical diagnosis in itself, this term is recognised by many health professionals, and refers to a fluctuating and varied set of symptoms which severely affect the sufferer’s ability to think clearly, or conduct their lives as they previously have.

Brain fog is often thought of as a benign, non-specific symptom, and in some circles is even dismissed as malingering. But in fact, it’s a symptom widely associated with chemotherapy, an issue for 40% of those with HIV, and source of frustration for many during pregnancy, amongst other medical conditions. Several neurological mechanisms have been proposed, but as of yet scientists don’t agree on the exact physical cause. As such, research looking into this after-effect of Covid is likely to garner a wide array of responses.

At this stage, understanding the experience of brain fog in long Covid is important — in order to tackle a new condition, researchers must first obtain a thorough description of the problem. This is the starting point from which further research can truly begin. To this end, researchers based at Oxford University recruited 50 participants from previous long Covid studies and online long Covid support groups to participate in remotely-held focus groups.

Their pre-print details qualitative data gathered over the course of these focus groups, held in October and November 2020, during which participants discussed both their own symptoms, and commented on others’ experiences with brain fog following Covid. By looking at the effects across all of these studies, the team found that time management has a moderate, positive impact on work performance, both in terms of performance appraisal by managers and factors like motivation and involvement with work. The relationship between time management and job performance became stronger over the years the studies were published, another suggestion that time management has become a more important factor in people’s lives. This link was not as strong in academic settings — time management seemed to be less relevant to tests scores or grades than it was to performance reviews at work. Read more on this topic here.

Credit – Emily Reynolds, (digest.bps.org.uk)

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