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FACT FINDERS: COVID-19 possible effects on the brain

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 6:19 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - If you’ve had COVID-19, a new study out of the United Kingdom suggests there could be long-term consequences for your brain.

The study looked at brain imaging before and after a COVID-19 infection.

Researchers found there could be long-term loss of brain tissue. They said there may be destruction of tissue near the area of the brain where you process smells. That could explain why some who contract COVID-19 lose their sense of smell.

Dr. Sean Elliott with Tucson Medical Center said long-term effects from COVID-19 can be very serious and might be permanent. So, researchers are testing some ways to retrain your brain. He said one way they are trying is through smell kits.

“Picture in your brain what for example what spearmint smells like or peppermint. OK, great. Now smell this taste sample,” he said. “You don’t smell anything but in your brain, you’re trying to train it to remember the smell associated with what your noise is acquiring. That doesn’t work all the time. In fact, the science on that is so young, it’s really unclear that it works at all.”

The University of Arizona is also studying how COVID-19 impacts the brain.

It is looking at 2,000 people in a number of cognitive areas, including memory and processing speed. They hope this is the start of a deeper look into the effect of the virus on the brain by following people for several years.

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