Coronavirus patients experience 'brain fog'

Manhattan mom and entrepreneur Lyss Stern has taken to filling her house with whiteboards.

"I really now have to take notes, take notes...write everything down," she said.

Stern, the founder of the lifestyle website "Diva Moms," blames brain fog, which she developed during a difficult bout with the Coronavirus in March that never went away.

"I've left my pocketbook in the freezer, I've left the eggs on the stove more than they should be," she recounted.


Stern considers herself a COVID "long-hauler," someone who still hasn't fully recovered from the virus weeks, or in her case, months after getting sick.

She's a member of the online network Survivor Corps, which counts more than 100,000 members.

"Every other person I see on the Survivor Corps page talks about the brain fog," she said, "It is real, it is there."

Kathy Morgenstern, a spokesperson for Survivor Corps, says in a recent survey of about 4,000 members, about half reported having brain fog or other cognitive issues, a figure first reported in the New York Times.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Ezriel Kornel says there is any number of reasons for the lasting cognitive symptoms.

"The virus does cause an inflammatory reaction," he said, noting that COVID-induced inflammation can affect blood vessels that feed the brain. And decreased oxygenation, which comes from difficulty breathing, could also cause cognitive impairment.

"Reduction in oxygen in the body certainly can affect the brain as well, so the brain cells are not receiving the amount of oxygen they need," Kornel said.

One of the biggest challenges for doctors and patients is that there is still so much unknown about the virus.

Stern has seen multiple doctors but has gotten very few answers.

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"It's very, very frustrating," she said.

Kornel says for some patients, the cure may just be time.

"If we look at people who had concussions, it can take a year or more to recover, and then they do recover, so I think people shouldn't give up hope," he said. 

On Tuesday, Survivor Corps is hosting a free antibody drive for COVID-19 Survivors and all that would like to get an antibody test. It is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. at Mount Sinai Hospital at 1190 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.