Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Verify your medical group

Refer to your insurance card or call your insurance provider to determine your medical group.

You can also search for your primary care doctor to find the medical group you and your doctor belong to.

Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

How COVID-19 can change your brain

March 23, 2022

Illustration of COVID and the brain

COVID-19 has led to a wide variety of challenges, from shuttered businesses to isolation and illness. Thankfully, we are currently seeing cases decrease and life return to somewhat normal.

For many, however, the effects of COVID-19 are long-lasting. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), more than half of COVID-19 survivors experience at least one long-term effect of the disease. Frequently reported lingering effects include fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain, loss of taste and smell, cognitive changes, and joint pain.

Another study in the U.K. found that COVID-19 can lead to substantial changes in the brain that persist after infection, even if the infection was mild. The study analyzed 401 brain scans of people at two points in time — before and after becoming infected with COVID-19 — allowing researchers to identify the differences caused by infection in the second scans.

A loss of gray matter
Differences found in the scans of those people who had COVID-19 included a decrease in both brain tissue thickness and gray to white tissue contrast. Such changes to the brain’s “gray matter” — where the brain’s processing is performed — can cause executive functioning problems related to information organization, problem-solving, multitasking and memory. Many patients commonly report this post-COVID effect as feeling like they have “brain fog.”

Also, tissue damage occurred in areas of the brain connected to smell and taste. The loss of taste and smell were the sixth and seventh most commonly reported long-term effects of having COVID-19 and can cause distress for those who experience them.

“While we are still learning why COVID-19 causes these changes in the brain, this research highlights that the effects of COVID-19 can be serious and long-lasting,” says Dr. Jennifer Jothen, a board-certified neurologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Sharp Coronado Hospital and Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “We assume the changes are likely due to the inflammation the disease causes, but more research needs to be done moving forward to learn how to prevent, treat and recover from these changes.”

According to Dr. Jothen, the best way to prevent brain changes due to COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. “Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is key to the prevention of infection, serious illness and death — and can also help prevent post-COVID health problems,” she says.

Get the latest COVID-19 information on vaccines, testing, getting care and more.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

Call 1-800-827-4277 or view our detailed phone directory.

For medical or psychiatric emergencies, call 911 immediately.

Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process your price estimate if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.