Brain fog can be particularly concerning for usually sharp-minded individuals, who suddenly find their days disrupted by confusion and memory loss. Is it reversible?
What makes understanding this ailment more complex is that brain fog isn’t technically a medical condition at all, but rather a symptom of other conditions. It can last anything from minutes to years, making people feel disorientated,
confused and generally mentally slower than they’re used to.
If you’ve ever had a spate of entering rooms and forgetting why, going blank on the directions to a place you regularly drive to, or being uncharacteristically unable to focus, you may be experiencing this unpleasant symptom. Brain fog can be quite alarming, often leaving sufferers wondering whether they’re developing dementia or some other cognitive disorder, which isn’t necessarily the case.
It usually manifests as:
- Confusion and disorientation.
- Difficulties with spatial awareness and information processing.
- The awareness that your faculties of thought, understanding and memory aren’t functioning properly.
Why does it happen?
There are a number of potential causes, which is why identifying the underlying issue is essential to tackling the problem. In most cases, treatment of the root problem will relieve or reverse brain fog. Common causes include:
Stress has various physical effects on the body, including headaches, digestive issues, heightened blood pressure and a weakened immune system. It can also be mentally exhausting. This makes it more difficult to reason, focus and understand. Take stock of events in your life that may be raising your stress levels, incorporate stress-reducing activities like meditation and yoga, and allow yourself time to rest. Remember, too, that the more anxious you
become about your brain fog, the more you exacerbate it: like all other forms of panic, the key is to relax and trust that
this, too, will pass.
Everyone reacts differently to different foods. Eating correctly means eating what’s right for your body’s specific needs. Foods that induce brain fog in some people include dairy, aspartame, peanuts and MSG, as well as a deficiency in vitamin B-12. Keep track of what you eat and how you feel following each meal, or keep a food journal to help you identify potentially triggering foods.
Brain fog might be a known side-effect of a medication you’re taking, so tell your doctor how you’re feeling. You may be able to lower your dosage or switch to an alternative medication.
Illness and medical conditions
Various medical conditions can cause brain fog, especially those associated with fatigue, changes in blood pressure
and inflammation, such as fibromyalgia. Others include diabetes, hypothyroidism, migraines, anaemia, depression and autoimmune diseases. Your doctor may order tests to determine whether you’re suffering from a condition that’s causing it. You might then be put on treatment like iron supplements for anaemia, or an anti-inflammatory for an autoimmune condition. As the condition’s managed, the brain fog will recede.
Lifestyle changes for a clearer mind
Besides seeking medical treatment, there are various changes you can make to tackle brain fog. These adjustments may be the key to sharpening your mind:
- Ensure you’re getting enough good-quality sleep – at least eight hours a night.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle and exercise at least three times a week.
- Overhaul your diet and include healthy ‘brain foods’, such as those rich in omega-3 and vitamin B-12.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTO: STOCK.ADOBE.COM