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Doctors learning possible side effects of COVID-19's impact on the brain

The most common side effect impacting the brain is a state of delirium that can last from a few days to a few months.

TOLEDO, Ohio — With more people recovering from the coronavirus over time, doctors are now learning about temporary and lasting side effects.

For scientists and doctors, with each new day comes a flood of new information on how to best treat COVID-19.

"Things we knew about in April and May, we had no clue about back in March. And now we are learning things in June and July that two months ago we had no clue about," Director of Neurocritical Care for Mercy Toledo, Dr. Sohel Ahmed, said.

This information is good for both current and recovering coronavirus patients as doctors learn about some of the lasting side effects, including some that can impact the brain.

"Patients do develop a condition that's usually temporary, where there's an acute confusion state and this can last a few days, to a few weeks, to a few months," Dr. Ahmed said.

This "delirium" is the most common of the side effects and it's something Dr. Ahmed is seeing in patients locally. He says it's not uncommon with patients who were at one point considered critically ill. 

A recent study is showing severe brain issues in a small number of cases.

"What it comes down to is a widespread inflammation in the brain. And those patients could have serious complications because this could be a fatal condition," Dr. Ahmed said.

The most recent study showed a surge of patients with these serious and sometimes fatal conditions in the UK.

Dr. Ahmed says he has not seen the most serious scenarios locally, but they are equipped to treat it at St. V's, including strokes and nerve damage.

"Definitely recommend if these are things you are noticing, you need to go to the nearest emergency center to get these things evaluated," Dr. Ahmed said.

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