COVID-19 symptoms can include confusion, forgetfulness, trouble speaking

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Doctors know the coronavirus attacks the lungs, the heart and the kidneys.

Another organ at risk is the brain, physicians say.

Patients are coming into health care centers incapable of stringing words together, memory loss and utter confusion — all signs of what’s called “delirium” — and doctors are linking it to COVID-19.

What’s most concerning is how quickly the onset of delirium occurs and how quickly it progresses. Extreme side effects of delirium include paranoia, hallucinations, and rambling, incoherent speech.

COVID-19 patients are at higher risk for delirium for several reasons. According to a report published in the latest issue of Critical Care, environmental factors associated with stay-at-home orders — including isolation and lack of human-to-human contact — can induce delirium. Once hospitalized, sedatives and prolonged reliance on ventilators can also lead to the condition.

If not caught early, delirium can result in extreme brain swelling, stroke or even death.