Memory and concentration problems are common in long COVID and must not be ignored, say scientists

Seven in ten long COVID patients experience concentration and memory problems several months after the initial onset of their disease, with many performing worse than their peers on cognitive tests, according to new research from the University of Cambridge.

Half of the patients in the study reported difficulties in getting medical professionals to take their symptoms seriously, perhaps because cognitive symptoms do not get the same attention as lung problems or fatigue.

In a study of 181 long COVID patients, 78% reported difficulty concentrating, 69% reported brain fog, 68% reported forgetfulness, and 60% reported problems finding the right word in speech.  These self-reported symptoms were reflected in significantly lower ability to remember words and pictures in cognitive tests.

Participants carried out multiple tasks to assess their decision-making and memory. These included remembering words in a list, and remembering which two images appeared together. The results revealed a consistent pattern of ongoing memory problems in those who had suffered COVID-19 infection. Problems were more pronounced in people whose overall ongoing symptoms were more severe.