Doctors concerned over rise in cases of neurological issues in Karnataka | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Neurologists say they have noticed a spike in complications like Guillain-Barre syndrome, facial palsy and stroke among people who have recovered from Covid-19 across the state. The spike has been significant after the second wave and the issues tend to linger for some time.
Doctors say these complications occur about 3-6 weeks after recovery from Covid. Top neurologists, however, admit the causes are yet unknown and researchers are yet to establish a link between the viral infection and neurological issues.
“We don’t know yet how Covid affects the nerves,” admitted Dr NK Venkataramana, founder chairman and director, Neurosciences, Brains Hospitals. “It’s possible the viral infection triggers an immunological response and inflammation in the nervous system. Also, many patients show a systemic disturbance where the body’s clotting mechanism is affected.”
Of the more than 400 post-Covid patients with neurological issues that Dr Venkataramana has treated over the past year, nearly 300 cases were after the second wave. He said during the first wave, most neurological issues were related to hampered clotting mechanisms that led to stroke. These were mostly among youngsters who had no other risk factors for stroke such as hypertension or diabetes.
“For those with comorbidities, the chances of stroke during and after Covid are high,” he said. There were also people with brain haemorrhages and those who suffered both stroke and haemorrhage were a challenge to treat, Dr Venkataramana said. “The haemorrhage causes platelet count to decline, while formation of clots requires blood thinners to be administered. But they can’t be given blood thinners due to the bleeding,” he said.
Doctors have also come across patients with Guillain-Barre (GB) syndrome, a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, causing inflammation in the spinal cord.
Dr Sreekanta Swamy, head of neurology, Aster RV Hospital, pointed to the case of an 80-year old man, who developed the syndrome two months after recovering from Covid. Dr Swamy said the viral infection can trigger an antigen-antibody response releasing certain chemicals that can cause neurological issues. “If the antigen reaction is severe, it can be detrimental. Also, antiviral drugs and steroids used to treat Covid have side effects,” he said.
Dr Swamy said he sees a minimum of four cases a week where patients complain of dizziness, heaviness in the head and inability to concentrate. In one case, a patient developed seizures two weeks after recovering from Covid and had a stroke.
“Many symptoms which are not associated with the 30-40 age group such as forgetfulness, dizziness and sleep disturbance are now commonly observed among post-Covid patients,” said Dr Swamy.
Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta, say they saw only two or three cases of GB syndrome in a month prior to the pandemic, but the rise now is three-fold.
“Among 100 hospitalised Covid patients, more than 1.5 % develop neurological complications within four months of recovery,” said Dr Ashok Kumar Singhal, neurologist, Fortis Hospitals. Genetic predisposition and variants of the virus do play a role, Dr Singhal said. “Perhaps, multiple reasons contribute to post-Covid neurological complications such as anxiety, fear of severe Covid effects, or it could be caused by medication,” Dr Swamy said.

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