Brain Fog Meaning
Confusion, forgetfulness, a lack of concentration, and hazy thinking are the hallmarks of brain fog. Overwork, lack of sleep, stress, and excessive computer usage are all potential causes of this. High levels of inflammation and alterations to the hormones that control your mood, energy, and attention are thought to be the primary cellular causes of brain fog. The whole system is thrown off when there are hormonal imbalances. Brain fog syndrome may also result in additional diseases, including obesity, irregular periods, and diabetes mellitus.
The phrase "brain fog" describes the sensation of being intellectually slow and foggy but is not truly a medical ailment. It might be a sign of various medical issues. Brain fog feels like a loss of mental clarity; it may interfere with your concentration and make it challenging for you to remember things.
The majority of individuals have encountered mental or brain fog. It's often characterized as having a hazy head. Older folks sometimes lament their forgetfulness. Physical changes we go through as we age might result in problems with previously unnoticed brain functioning. Learning and remembering new knowledge requires more time. We are not as swift as we once were. Brain fog may also be a result of little sleep, excessive work, and stress. Though irritating, brain fog is treatable. Never disregard your symptoms. Brain fog may lower your quality of life and increase your risk of developing other illnesses, including Parkinson's disease, memory loss, and Alzheimer's disease, if it is not addressed.
According to research, the word "brain fog" is likely to have its roots in the phrase "brain fag," which was created in 1850 by British physician James Tunstall. Tunstall coined the phrase to explain the mental fatigue that "brain workers"?lawyers, authors, instructors, and students?felt as a result of excessive studying. According to research, "excessive academic strain" was referred to as "brain fag syndrome" in the 1960s when the DSM-4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) was updated.
Though the word has evolved, brain fog is still used to describe symptoms of a number of illnesses today, as well as a result of burnout and overwork in contemporary culture.
Symptoms of Brain Fog
A doctor cannot identify brain fog with a single test. A doctor will do a physical examination, ask you about your health history, and ask you questions about your:
Tell your doctor about any other symptoms you may have. For instance, a person with hypothyroidism could also have weight gain, dry skin, brittle nails, and mental fog.
Your doctor can determine the reason for brain fog with the use of blood tests. The following may be found via a blood test:
Imaging tests that examine the body, such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scans, may be used as additional diagnostic techniques. In order to check for a sleep condition, the doctor could also do allergy testing or a sleep study. Keeping a food diary may determine whether your diet causes brain fog.
Causes of Brain Fog
The fact that there are so many possible causes of brain fog and that experiencing brain fog on its own doesn't provide enough information to diagnose patients is one of the difficulties in understanding it. Following are a few typical factors to think about.
1. Changes in Hormones
According to Dr. Wilhour, both menopause, and pregnancy may cause fog. According to research, pregnant women often experience confusion, disorientation, and fogginess. These feelings might cause them to act in ways like setting items down in strange locations, misplacing objects, and forgetting basic responsibilities at work. Some people refer to this as "pregnancy brain."
Regarding menopause, one research says that memory problems might start during menopause and last until postmenopause, most likely as a result of the impact estrogen has on memory function.
2. Dietary Obstacles
According to Pudumjee, having some brain fog may occur from eating a limited diet and not getting enough vitamins and minerals. According to Wilhour, anemia is specifically a result of a B12 or iron shortage and may reduce energy levels as well as indirectly impact cognition.
Wilhour adds that dietary allergies and sensitivities may also affect your thinking ability. 95% of Beyond Celiac's study participants who have nonceliac gluten sensitivity report feeling cognitive fog.
Brain fog-related adverse effects from drug use are possible. For instance, the migraine medication topiramate (Topamax) might make you feel foggy-headed. It may result in foggy thinking, disorientation, and trouble finding words, Wilhour warns his patients. She also adds that taking many drugs, or polypharmacy, may contribute to brain fog. Ask your doctor or chemist whether cognitive difficulties might be a side effect if you've experienced brain fog after taking a new medication. People experience side effects in various ways. (Ask your doctor before stopping a recommended meditation regimen.)
According to the National Cancer Institute, "chemo brain" is a well-known phenomenon that includes cognitive issues before, during, and after cancer therapy. The disease itself, symptoms brought on by cancer (such as depression or sleep issues), or a number of therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy, may all contribute to this mental fog.
5. Some Medical Conditions
Wilhour points out that a variety of illnesses, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, anemia, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, celiac disease, and lupus, may cause brain fog.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, affects 5% of Americans over the age of 12 and is often accompanied by cognitive problems. Research shows that fatigue, sadness, and problems with memory and executive function are often early indicators of hypothyroidism.
Separately, according to the National Institute on Ageing, studies have shown that persons with moderate cognitive impairment (MCI), as compared to those without, are more likely to get dementia or Alzheimer's disease. However, research is now ongoing to determine why some individuals with MCI move to dementia and others do not. Roughly 10 to 20 percent of adults 65 and older with MCI acquire dementia over the course of a year.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one indication of extended COVID is the ability to pay attention, concentrate, and remember things following infection. According to an NIH-supported study, this may be because of inflammation in the brain, which alters how brain cells function. According to one research, brain fog affected 7.2% of persons with long-term COVID, and it was more prevalent in women, those with previous respiratory conditions, and people with COVID-19 that was more severe.
Additionally, according to some neuroscientists and behavioral specialists, the stress and loneliness that individuals experienced during the pandemic-related lockdown may have also been a contributing reason to brain fog.
Many pregnant women report having trouble remembering things. Numerous physical changes may occur during pregnancy, and substances secreted to protect and feed your unborn child may worsen memory issues.
8. Multiple Sclerosis
The condition may alter how your brain "talks" to the rest of your body because it affects your central nervous system. The majority of MS patients have memory, focus, planning, or language problems. Exercises for learning and memory may be beneficial, and a therapist can teach you fresh approaches to your struggles.
When they reach this period of life, women could have a tougher time remembering or learning new things. It occurs around age 50, or about a year after their last period. They could also have hot flashes, which are abrupt episodes of perspiration accompanied by an increase in body temperature and heart rate. Other forms of medicine, like hormone supplements, could be helpful.
10. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
With this illness, your body and mind will be worn down for a very long period. There's a chance you'll feel disoriented, forgetful, and unfocused. While there is no recognized treatment for CFS, medicines and talk therapy may be beneficial.
It's possible that you won't have a good memory or be able to solve difficulties quickly. It's difficult to determine if this is related to the low energy and motivation that come with sadness or whether depression impacts your brain and contributes to the fog. You should be able to get back on track with the aid of medicine and talk therapy for your depression.
Sleep is necessary for your brain to function properly, but too much sleep may also leave you feeling groggy. For 7 to 9 hours, aim. Avoiding coffee and alcohol after lunch or before bed, as well as keeping your smartphone and computer out of your bedroom, helps you get a decent night's sleep. Additionally, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day might be beneficial. If you suspect a sleep condition, such as apnea, insomnia, or narcolepsy, is the root of your mental fog, speak with your doctor.
The symptoms of this chronic illness, which causes your immune system to assault your body, vary depending on the individual. The majority of people living with lupus struggle with memory loss, forgetfulness, or concentration issues. There is no cure. However, therapy sessions and prescription medications may assist.
Treatment for Brain Fog and Lifestyle Modifications
Talk to your doctor if the fog in your head lasts more than a few weeks, suggests Pudumjee. When you're under stress, brain fog is often expected. According to Wilhour, you should seek competent medical advice if it starts to impair your quality of life.
Your doctor will review your medical history, potentially order blood tests, and ask questions about your lifestyle to determine how much you exercise, eat, manage your stress, and get enough sleep. It's critical to treat any underlying medical issues that may be affecting your cognitive performance in order to alleviate brain fog.
Beyond that, some lifestyle changes advocated by experts may also aid in overcoming mental fog.
1. Exercise consistently
Get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise if you're in good health. Taking a walk counts. Pudumjee claims that exercise awakens the brain while simultaneously exhausting the body and improving sleep.
2. Rest Well
Wilhour advises aiming for at least seven hours of sleep each night. And have a regular sleep pattern. "Go to bed and wake up at the same time," she counsels. Put the laptop away and switch off Netflix, even if you may want to stay up late to do more. The next day, in general, you will be less productive, adds Wilhour. Everyone should prioritize getting enough sleep.
3. Eliminate Stress
Select your preferred stress-reduction technique. You may go on weekend hikes in the outdoors, take morning walks with your neighbor, meditate, download books to read for pleasure, start a new hobby, or watch old episodes of your favorite comedy. ConsiderConsider taking more vacation time and longer breaks since research indicates that these actions may enhance attention and well-being.
We each have a more developed and more basic brain. Chronic stress triggers the primitive brain, preventing us from using our higher cognitive processes effectively. You'll be able to remain more in your thinking brain if you can control your stress.
4. Alcohol and caffeine in moderation
You may choose whether or not to drink alcohol or coffee in your life. But it would be best if you also were mindful of when and how much of those drinks you choose to consume. According to studies, drinking caffeinated coffee lowers your chance of developing Parkinson's disease and cognitive decline. However, Wilhour cautions that drinking caffeine too late in the day might interfere with your ability to sleep.
If you drink, limit your intake to no more than a little. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention advise men and women to limit their alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day. More "can be harmful to brain health," according to Wilhour. The quality of your sleep may also be impacted by alcohol use before bed; studies have shown that those who consume alcohol sleep less.
5. Keep in Touch
"Social animals have evolved to be us. Living alone is not what the brain is designed to accomplish, claims Wilhour. According to her, sadness may cause brain fog as a result of disconnection. One research of over 66,000 adults revealed that those with the highest levels of mental fitness combined social interaction and connection (rather than simply one or the other). Focus on your friendships and schedule frequent, meaningful time with the individuals you care about.
Supplements to Stop Brain Fog
Ginkgo biloba extract has received extensive research because of its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, platelet-forming, and circulation-improving properties. Benefits of ginkgo biloba include greater energy, a happier mood, better memory, and a reduction in symptoms of a number of chronic conditions. Alzheimer's disease risk may be decreased by it as well.