Interview with Prof. Andrea Winkler and Prof. Paul Lingor before their talk at the Covid-19 Lectures
Neuro- and Post-Covid Syndrome: The Nervous System suffers as well
Which neurological symptoms are particularly common in acute corona infection?
Prof. Lingor: When a corona infection progresses with symptoms, patients especially complain often of headache, fatigue, exhaustion, but also of the now well-known smell and taste disorders. About one third of corona patients suffer from such neurological complaints. In significantly less severe cases, strokes or inflammation of the brain may also occur.
Why do some still have such complaints even after months?
Prof. Lingor: We now know that the Sars-CoV-2 virus can also enter the central nervous system through various ports of entry and cause damage there. In rare cases, this leads to inflammation of the brain tissue - a so-called encephalitis - or damage to peripheral nerves. Our nervous system recovers from such damage only over the course of many months. However, there are also numerous patients who have undergone a corona infection without such severe involvement of the nervous system and still report ongoing symptoms. These include persistent fatigue, exhaustion, impaired concentration, cognitive impairment, but sometimes also palpitations or dizziness. The cause of these complaints is still largely unknown.
What consequences do you expect in the future?
Prof. Winkler: In the majority of patients, corona disease will probably not lead to neurological deficits. However, we already know that some of the patients who have recovered have suffered long-lasting damage. Such events are either neurological symptoms that occurred during acute covid-19 disease and persist beyond (currently called "long-covid"), or ones that re-emerge after a symptom-free period, also called "post-covid." Whether there are different mechanisms of disease development and what the ultimate causes are is not clear at the moment. However, it is certain that these patients will continue to keep us busy in the future. Whether corona disease increases the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease such as dementia or Parkinson's disease later in life, we can' t say with certainty on the basis of the data we have today - the course is still too short for this to be the case.
- Prof. Andrea Winkler is a specialist at the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and co-director of the Center for Global Health at the TUM Medical Faculty. She is Professor of Global Health at the University of Oslo and also Founding Director of the Centre for Global Health there. She also leads the Global COVID-19 Neuro Research Coalition, a neurological research platform established in response to the pandemic and collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Prof. Paul Lingor is a senior physician at the Clinic and Polyclinic for Neurology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich. There, he heads the special outpatient clinic for motor neuron diseases as well as the special outpatient clinic for movement disorders. He is an affiliated scientist at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) at the Munich site.
- All talks of the Covid-19 Lectures
- The lecture is hosted by Prof. Marion Kiechle