Article: Brain Fog and Fatigue following COVID-19 Infection: An Exploratory Study of Patient Experiences of Long COVID
Authors: Emily E Chasco, Kimberly Dukes, DeShauna Jones, Alejandro P Comellas, Richard M Hoffman, Alpana Garg
Journal: Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 23;19(23):15499
Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) is a poorly understood condition with significant impact on quality of life. We aimed to better understand the lived experiences of patients with PASC, focusing on the impact of cognitive complaints (“brain fog”) and fatigue on (1) daily activities, (2) work/employment, and (3) interpersonal relationships. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 15 patients of a Midwestern academic hospital’s post-COVID-19 clinic. We audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed interviews thematically using a combined deductive-inductive approach and collected participants’ characteristics from chart review. Participants frequently used descriptive and metaphorical language to describe symptoms that were relapsing-remitting and unpredictable. Fatigue and brain fog affected all domains and identified subthemes included symptoms’ synergistic effects, difficulty with multitasking, lack of support, poor self-perception, and fear of loss of income and employment. Personal relationships were affected with change of responsibilities, difficulty parenting, social isolation, and guilt due to the burdens placed on family. Furthermore, underlying social stigma contributed to negative emotions, which significantly affected emotional and mental health. Our findings highlight PASC’s negative impact on patients’ daily lives. Providers can better support COVID-19 survivors during their recovery by identifying their needs in a sensitive and timely manner.
Link to journal online: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/23/15499