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COVID Impacts

Detailed information and resources on the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 infection and the broad social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 and the Nervous System

COVID-19 can have a wide variety of effects on the nervous system. People who have severe enough COVID-19 to require hospitalization may have lung, kidney, or other organ damage that can also affect the brain (known as metabolic encephalopathy). This happens when the brain does not get enough oxygen, or problems in other organs change the balance of chemicals in the brain. People with severe COVID-19 may also develop strokes due to a tendency for increased clot formation, which can block the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

After the initial infection, during what’s known as the subacute phase, people who have had COVID-19 may develop a variety of inflammatory syndromes affecting the brain, spinal cord, or nerves.

In children, the inflammatory process can affect multiple organ systems and is called multi-inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). It is important to recognize these syndromes early in the course of the illness since they can be treated with drugs that target inflammation.

Scientists are still learning how COVID-19 affects the nervous system. You can read the NINDS Director’s Message on Understanding neurological complications of COVID-19 to learn about research NINDS is supporting to better understand this connection.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Neuropsychiatric Manifestations

CNS Disease

Neurodegenerative Disease

Parkinson's Disease