New Study on Post-COVID Syndrome
As we learn more about Post COVID Syndrome and Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-COV2, there are growing concerns that the symptoms patients are experiencing are due to a neurological problem. Headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate, muscle, and chest pain; all of these could be related to how the nerves in our body are functioning. Specifically, there have been reports of autonomic dysfunction.
The autonomic nervous system is what controls all the things in our body that we aren’t normally thinking about, like our pulse and intestine movement. To understand this better, researchers at Mayo Clinic looked at the patients we have seen for PASC and PCS to see if there are any indications of autonomic dysfunction, and the results of this analysis were recently published.
27 patients showed signs of possible autonomic dysfunction between March 2020 and January 2021. The most common symptom was lightheadedness and headache. Some patients also experienced sweating, burning pain, and syncope (passing out). On testing, one fifth of patients met criteria for a diagnosis of postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a specific form of autonomic dysfunction. Other abnormalities were found less frequently, including worsening of preexisting orthostatic hypotension (dizziness on standing) and small fiber neuropathy (causes diffuse pain).
Overall, our study shows that patients with PSC or PASC can have symptoms from autonomic dysfunction, and that these problems are sometimes detected on testing. While this finding is not enough to say that COVID-19 infection causes autonomic nerve problems, it emphasizes the need for more research in this area and for patients to report such symptoms to their providers.