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Brain fog: We are finally starting to understand what it is and how to treat it

COURTNEY SHUKIS was looking forward to lunch: she had just recovered from covid-19 and was glad to be meeting her friends again. Before leaving her home in Plano, Texas, she checked the calendar, making a mental note of the restaurant and when to meet. “But instead of going there, I got in my car and drove to a completely different place,” she recalls. “I sat at the table for half an hour, looking at my phone, wondering where everyone was. My brain fog was really bad.”

That wasn’t a one-off. After having covid-19, Shukis had frequent episodes of memory loss. She would forget to make dinner, had trouble finding the words to describe things and got confused about school pick-up times. “I had never had any difficulties with these kinds of things before. It just felt like my brain wasn’t working right.”

Shukis is one of millions of people worldwide reporting a severe dent in cognitive functioning following a covid-19 infection, and as a result, the issue of brain fog has been thrust into the limelight. For many, this is long overdue. “It’s something that patients with a wide variety of different medical problems have said has interfered with their ability to function for a long time,” says Sabina Brennan, a neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and author of Beating Brain Fog. The hope is that this interest could improve care for those experiencing it. “If there’s anything positive to come out of the covid-19 pandemic, it’s that the spotlight is now on brain fog and the scientific community is paying much more attention to it,” says Brennan.…

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