Cognition - Overview

What is Long COVID and how does it relate to cognition?

Post-COVID syndrome or Long Covid is defined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as signs and symptoms following an initial infection consistent with COVID-19 which continues for more than 12 weeks and is not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

85% of patients experiencing Long Covid typically report 4 or more neurological complaints including brain fog, headache, numbness, tingling, dizziness, insomnia, loss of taste and smell and tinnitus (Koralnik, 2021). ‘Brain Fog’ is the most common (81%) (Graham et al, 2021).

What is brain fog?

The term ‘brain fog’ is generally used by patients to describe the feeling of being mentally slow, fuzzy, or spaced out. 

Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction and/or mental fatigue which can cause a profound and frightening  disruption to a person’s daily life and function. It is not a diagnosis or a medical term; more of a general umbrella term used to describe a series of symptoms. 

Some researchers and clinicians use the term “neuro-Covid” to describe the acute manifestations of COVID-19 within the brain.

What are the typical symptoms?

  •  A lack of mental clarity, or a lingering mental fog;
  • Feeling fuzzy, sluggish and ‘out of it’;
  • Poor short term memory;
  • Feeling distracted with reduced attention, concentration and focus;
  • Slow processing of information (written and verbal);
  • Difficulty reading, writing and understanding information;
  • Difficulty making decisions;
  • Difficulty problem solving or multi-tasking;
  • Difficulty making plans;
  • Difficulties with word-finding or finding the correct word to use;
  • Difficulty selecting the right topic and not making sense during conversations; and
  • Feeling overwhelmed by simple tasks and having difficulty with routine situations.

Want to learn more about how Long COVID affects cognition and how to manage symptoms?

Visit any of the pages below to view content created by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Trust.

Resource Menu

Thank you to the contributors for this section