Face Blindness & Long COVID: Prosopagnosia Is a New Symptom of Long COVID by Jacob Teitelbaum
A very scary symptom of long COVID is a type of cognitive dysfunction known as prosopagnosia, or difficulty in recognizing faces. What could be more terrifying than to not “know” a face that’s been familiar to you in the past?
"Brain fog” is one of the signatures of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and now, long COVID, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers to be a manifestation of post-viral CFS. I have been treating and researching patients with CFS and its painful cousin fibromyalgia for over 35 years. These conditions create an overload to the circuit breaker in the brain, the hypothalamus. To protect the nervous system from damage, that tiny gland “shuts the system down,” as it were, creating a wide range of seemingly unconnected symptoms – exhaustion, insomnia, pain and brain fog.
However, “face blindness” in long COVID presents a new twist.
In CFS, the most prominent symptoms of brain fog have been difficulty with short-term memory, word finding and word substitution. Episodic disorientation is also common in about one-third of people. New research now suggests that the development of difficulty recognizing faces can also be a part of the cognitive dysfunction.
This can create a good bit of awkwardness, and when severe, people may even be unable to recognize family members’ faces. But fortunately, it is usually milder. Regardless, it’s still a challenge for people to experience.
The brain fog of long COVID, CFS and fibromyalgia, is not to be confused with dementia. Brain fog is when you repeatedly forget where you left the keys. Dementia is where you forget how to use the keys. Nonetheless, long-term chronic pain can trigger brain shrinkage over the decades, which has been associated with dementia. This is likely because both the pain and long COVID can trigger a process called microglial activation, which may be seen as a form of ongoing brain inflammation.
The good news is that usually both the pain and the “brain inflammation” of microglial activation can be turned off. This is the mechanism by which the compounded prescription treatment called Low Dose Naltrexone is likely to work.
This compounded, safe prescription is inexpensive at around $0.75 a day and has been shown in repeated studies to be helpful for fibromyalgia overall, as well as many other kinds of pain and autoimmune disorders. It also can be helpful in long COVID, and it is very important that research using this treatment be done. Because of its low-cost, safety and repeatedly proven effectiveness in fibromyalgia research, it is reasonable for this treatment to be used in those with long COVID as well as fibromyalgia. It may initially disrupt sleep (which can be adjusted for) and takes two months at a dose of 3 to 4.5 mg a night to START seeing the benefits. So, people need to be a little patient. But then the benefits can be quite dramatic.
I also find that balancing the immune system with a mix of herbs found in a mix called curamin can be very helpful at settling down discomfort while balancing inflammation in two key inflammatory systems, COX – cyclooxygenase and LOX lipoxygenase.
Fortunately, the brain fog in long COVID and CFS/fibromyalgia are very treatable, as is the pain and fatigue. But it is best to begin treatments now, rather than leaving people disabled, in pain and at-risk for future worsened cognitive dysfunction. Effective treatment is already available with multiple options.
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