How Do I Know if I’m Experiencing Brain Fog?

Brain Fog

“Brain fog” may sound like a fairly benign concern, but its real-life implications can be serious. Those with brain fog often complain of symptoms such as an inability to concentrate, confusion, memory problems, and loss of focus. Therefore, people who struggle with this issue may have trouble solving problems, working out calculations, finding the right words to express themselves, processing information, or general orientation. These side effects can negatively impact one’s ability to function, whether completing work tasks or maintaining healthy relationships.

In addition, brain fog is a complicated concern. It’s not a single diagnosed condition, but a symptom that can point to other health issues, and one that can stem from a wide array of causes. Thus, finding its root origin is a must for creating the proper treatment plan—but there are also several steps anyone can take to help keep brain fog at bay.

Those with brain fog often complain of symptoms such as an inability to concentrate, confusion, memory problems, and loss of focus. Click To Tweet

Causes of Brain Fog

There are myriad causes of brain fog, pointing to a range of root concerns and conditions. Some are psychiatric issues, such as anxiety (which leads to an overtaxed brain), or untreated depression or ADD/ADHD. Others are situational—lack of sleep, stress, poor diet, undiagnosed food allergies, alcohol or drug addiction, or over-the-counter medications—and can be addressed with the appropriate lifestyle changes. Still others may be trickier to pinpoint, such as a hormonal imbalance or a past head injury or trauma, which can be forgotten by those who sustain them.

Even prior illnesses can contribute to brain fog. One study, conducted in late 2020, showed a correlation between recovery from COVID-19 and cognitive impairments, which researchers theorized may be linked to underlying inflammation associated with the virus. We now know that the phenomenon of COVID-Brain isn’t a myth—and it’s particularly common among those who experience lasting symptoms (known as long haulers, long COVID, or post-COVID syndrome). And Johns Hopkins Medicine found an even greater threat to mental health among those who spent time in intensive care for serious cases of COVID-19.

In some cases, brain fog can point toward other health concerns that haven’t yet been addressed. Examples include toxic mold exposure (or exposure to other toxins, like common household products), the effects of which can be clearly shown on brain SPECT imaging; Lyme disease, which can damage cognitive function in a variety of ways; or dementia, which itself is commonly misdiagnosed.

3 Tips to Manage Brain Fog

When does brain fog transition from a minor inconvenience to a troubling concern? In general, if the symptoms of brain fog don’t diminish on their own, or appear to worsen over time, it’s a good idea to consider a medical evaluation. Because brain fog can potentially be caused by so many culprits, it’s crucial to pinpoint the proper cause to determine the best treatment plan. Acting in a timely fashion can help prevent further ill effects.

In general, however, there are steps everyone can take—as well as harmful lifestyle choices that are wisely eliminated—to help improve cognitive function, prevent premature brain aging, and make brain fog an infrequent intruder in everyday activities:

1. Adhere to a healthy diet.

After determining the right daily caloric intake for you, pack that daily count with high-quality foods. Antioxidant-rich produce, such as berries, broccoli, and oranges (organically grown when possible); amino acid-rich lean proteins; and brain-power boosters, like turmeric, all help contribute to a sharper mind. If you suspect undetermined food allergies are causing brain fog, try eliminating potential offenders, like gluten, soy, or dairy, then reintroducing them one at a time to evaluate the effects. Finally, don’t forget to hydrate throughout the day with filtered water—lack of hydration ramps up stress responses in the body, which can contribute to memory issues over time.

2. Maximize mental health.

Issues such as depression, anxiety, and adult ADD/ADHD are complicated, and each present themselves in various ways, so it’s important to determine which type you’re facing. If general stress or anxiety is causing brain fog, try reducing its effects with practices such as meditation and breathing techniques or other natural solutions. Alternatively, check hormone levels for any warning signs of an imbalance that can affect the brain, or utilize brain SPECT imaging to look out for underlying injuries.

3. Adjust lifestyle choices.

Bad habits often contribute to the brain operating at less than its best. Reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol and drugs, which are common brain-fog culprits. Get sleep habits on track with a nighttime ritual if needed, aiming for 7-8 hours nightly—because even one night of improper sleep can dull cognitive function. Evaluate medications (both over-the-counter and prescriptions) to ensure they’re not adding to a feeling of cognitive decline. Finally, seek out positive lifestyle additions: Healthy habits such as regular exercise, or even simply enjoying calming music, can offer up positive effects to help counteract brain fog.

Brain fog and other mental health issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

17 Comments »

  1. I’m interested in finding out why I feel like I’m losing my memories…I know I’ve been dealing with stress and depression but have no idea of how to get through it

    Comment by Nancy R Brown — April 1, 2022 @ 3:24 AM

  2. It is a joy to read your written text,’
    I get much info via videos and I have given up looking at them.
    Thank you

    Comment by Edith Foley — April 1, 2022 @ 4:13 AM

  3. I am suffering from Covid Longhaulers as well as a concussion. I did a brain scan at your clinic in 2020 but due to being broke and on workman’s compensation I was unable to move forward with EMDR treatments and the program that was suggested. I truly believe in the Amen clinic. My settlement I pray will pay for my recovery. I truly believe in hyperbaric chamber solutions to aid in brain recovery. I am planing on doing both once I receive my settlement. I’m hoping for June 2022. Thank you for sending these educational pieces. It truly gives me hope that help can be achieved by those who care. Thank you Dr Anen and Tana you have both been a true inspiration to me. I am staring a non profit to heal First Responders and our Vetrans with horses. It’s been my life’s dream to help them heal from PTSD and trauma. We will also be doing this at no charge to them. We work 109% on donations and Grants. We will have a location in Orange County and Temecula. I am so excited. My ladder 7 products, inc. 5013C will fund this project. I can’t wait!

    Comment by Ruth Nichols — April 1, 2022 @ 5:47 AM

  4. How can you tell the difference from severe brain fog and Aphasia?

    Comment by Kimberly Lane — April 1, 2022 @ 6:16 AM

  5. On jan12 2021 I fell off a table had a head concussion very sick for months and brain still not fountaming right now I’m going to a specialist for a 3 hr test and I’m concerned about the test. I’m really truly afraid of what she would say. Do you know what a 3 hr test would be.

    Comment by Iris — April 1, 2022 @ 7:27 AM

  6. Like to hear more!!

    Comment by Jacqueline Young — April 1, 2022 @ 8:07 AM

  7. Overgrowth of yeast…candidiasis… is serious culprit causing brain fog in addition to lethargy, carb cravings, inability to lose weight, bowel problems, low immune response and myriad of other symptoms.

    Comment by Denise Donnelly — April 1, 2022 @ 8:33 AM

  8. I wish you were here in the Boston suburb area. I will be seeing a cognitive neurologist on 4.12.22. I hope he can figure something out for my brain fog, lack of concentration/focus, memory, repetitive morning anxiety thoughts, fatigue. I’m 69 and feel 90. I’m 4’11” and weigh 107, eat well, don’t drink or smoke and exercise a couple times a week. I don’t like pharmaceutical drugs. I’m recently taking an over the countersupplement called Neuriva before bed and one called Brain Power by BlueBonnet after breakfast for memory, focus and cognitive support. I can’t seem to get off dead center and motivate myself to get things done around the house until 1 in the afternoon! I hate this age because I can’t think straight these past 2 years with brain fog for the past 4 yrs. Seeing a new primary today but just a nurse practioner.
    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Rhonda

    Comment by Rhonda Rizzo — April 1, 2022 @ 8:43 AM

  9. Depending on how prevalent it is, brain fog may not be something to worry about. However, as you detailed here, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of it occurring in the future, such as prioritizing mental wellness.

    Comment by Carola Jain — April 1, 2022 @ 11:55 AM

  10. Brain fog is a common aspect of fibromyalgia. We call it fibro fog, and it can be one of the more debilitating features .

    Comment by Diane Shepherd — April 1, 2022 @ 3:21 PM

  11. Those symptoms sound like me after my occipital stroke

    Comment by Sharon Tillman — April 2, 2022 @ 8:18 AM

  12. Thank you for the information. I have fibro fog and I just realized it after reading the above comments. I love the help Dr. Amen is giving through his work!

    Comment by Marilyn — April 2, 2022 @ 9:15 AM

  13. I have had Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue for nearly twenty-five years. My life has changed in so many ways. I can longer do the things I did before FM. I had to give up things I loved, such as playing the piano for church and singing with my daughter. I have learned to take the talents I have and use them at home. I seldom go out except to appointments. Covid-19 made things worse and we don’t go out to eat anymore. To sum up what I have written, I have let go of stress and worry. I started reading the Bible again and it calms me. I try to pray and leave things in God’s hands and not take them back. I am much happier than I was. ( Went to an ENT doc. and he said there was no such thing as Fibro Fog. He needs to walk in my shoes.) I also have a dog who has been nothing but a joy. He is an amazing mix of Bulldog and Pit Bull. A pet can make a difference in our lives and help us every day!

    Comment by BERNICE ALEXANDER — April 2, 2022 @ 12:04 PM

  14. I have Fibro and anxiety bad! I am 62 worried. I am on a antidepressant. I am also on a benzo 3 times a day 1mg over 20 years now, my specialist cant seem to get me off. Clonzapam.

    Comment by diana Sinner — April 2, 2022 @ 3:32 PM

  15. After my husband of 39 years passed away, I experienced brain fog for about 2 years. I did pretty much what you suggested above and found that after a while my thinking became much clearer. I am almost recovered but still have problems with staying awake all day and sleeping 7-8 hours at night. When I fall asleep during the day it happens very quickly. I know that I am tired and I stop doing anything that requires concentration. I am unaware of falling asleep until I wake up and realize I’ve been sleeping. Is this something that you can help?

    Comment by M. Lourandos — April 3, 2022 @ 5:12 PM

  16. Went to tms therapy & found helpful with brain fog but it only lasted each day after treatment, would force myself up cuz knew after appointment, brain fog was gone fir the day, unfortunately didnt last, only on days of treatment, then tried neurofeedback which did nothing for the condition, there must be some other therapies for this condition. ??

    Comment by Stephane — April 6, 2022 @ 10:23 PM

  17. Like to hear more about the brain fog, focus, concentration and good memory.

    Comment by Gavin nwanji — May 23, 2022 @ 4:43 PM

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