What Is Brain Fog And How Can It Be Cured?
Over the past few months, I haven’t been able to remember much. I know my name, what year we are and the current president, but I keep forgetting little things that I shouldn’t. Like dates and meetings and where I put, well, almost everything. Not that I was ever particularly good at staying on top of mundane tasks, but they always crossed my mind at some point, which then prompted me to take a mental note or write everything down. that I had to do. Today, it’s only two hours after a date or a scheduled event that I realize that I completely missed it. My cognitive function, in general, has seemed to take a turn for the worse lately. My brain is seriously jet-lagged. I am often slow and unmotivated.
Over the past year and a half, researchers have studied the effects of COVID-19 on the brain. People with the virus or the long haul – those who still have symptoms weeks or even months after infection – have reported cognitive problems associated with forgetfulness, confusion and lack of mental clarity. It is a phenomenon more commonly referred to as “brain fog”.
Now, I admit I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, and I can’t say for sure that the brain fog I seem to be feeling is related to my own past infection with COVID-19. But I don’t rule it out either.
Besides the fact that What is the source of this fuzzy brain funk, however, I would really like to get to the bottom of this, and if you experience a similar sensation, you probably will too. That’s why I spoke with Dr. James Giordano, professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, to get the truth about brain fog, why it happens, and what can be done, if it occurs.
What exactly is brain fog?
Notably not official medical term, brain fog is a term used to describe “subjective feelings of mild disorientation, inability to concentrate, difficulty with orientation of time of day and / or situations, memory problems short term and recall, difficulty acquiring new information and some difficulty in what is clinically called executive function, i.e. your daily tasks: remembering where you left your keys or how some things work, ”says Giordano.
“So brain fog represents exactly that fog in a person’s ability to engage cognitive and motor skills, including, but not limited to, learning, planning, memory, and execution. “
Why is this happening?
The causes of brain fog unrelated to COVID can be divided into three categories: substance, situational, and disease-induced brain fog.
“The hangover effect is probably the most famous of all. A hangover is a wonderful example of what brain fog would look like. You are not quite yourself, you kind of have a hard time getting up and going. You really can’t concentrate, you feel tired, but not tired, you feel tired, ”says Giordano. Caffeine can also have a paradoxical effect on some people. Instead of making you feel shaken, caffeine can make you tired and sleepy. Dairy products, especially for people with lactose intolerance, as well as sugar, can cause low energy levels.
Along with substance-induced brain fog, changes in metabolism throughout the day as well as exercise and your body’s internal clock may be involved.
“Some people find that during their day their metabolism changes and as a result of these changes they have changed the metabolic demands and supplies of their brain and they feel foggy. Some people experience brain fog before or after. after exercise, “he explains.” Some people may experience what is called circadian brain fog. They feel a bit hazy in the morning, afternoon or evening. That’s not all. just not daytime fatigue, it’s because their cognitive processes really seem to have those times, those times of the day when they’re a little bit sharper.
A mild concussion or head trauma can also produce brain fog-like syndrome which can last from a few days to several weeks, and in other cases, people who have an illness including inflammatory disease ( including certain infectious diseases) can have brain fog syndrome that can last from days to weeks to months, explains Giordano. Which brings us to …
The link with COVID-19
“A disease like COVID produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known to have certain neurological effects and as a result some people experience COVID-induced brain fog,” says Giordano, who adds that the neurological effects of inflammation low level, both in the body and in the brain, is something of concern to him and other researchers.
“It’s called neuroinflammation, and we know there are a number of conditions that can produce this low-level, but progressive, inflammatory state in the brain, which can lead to certain structural and functional changes in the brain. the brain’s ability to think, feel emotions and behave. With COVID, it certainly is. “
COVID produces an inflammatory response in the body that occurs due to the immune response against the virus. Immune mediators released by cells in the body can travel and induce inflammatory effects, called cytokines, in the brain, which can cause symptoms associated with brain fog. In other cases, the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself can attach to angiotensin receptors found in neurological tissue, which can cause a direct neuroinflammatory cascade and prolong the symptoms of the virus. “This is where you really see significant levels of cognitive and behavioral impairment that contribute to a lot of long term neuropsychological effects of what we now call long COVID,” says Giordano.
So can we do something about it?
It’s all a bit scary. No one ever wants their brain to be fogged up, but especially for an extended period of time. And if you’ve been through what feels like a never-ending cycle of fatigue and forgetfulness, it’s easy to just lie down and give your mind, body, and soul entirely to the fog.
Corn all hope is not lost. There are activities, lifestyle changes, and even medications that can help fight brain fog, starting with an anti-inflammatory diet. This includes an anti-inflammatory diet, often a Mediterranean-style diet, high in healthy fats and oils, fish oils, vitamin E, and omega-3s. “We also know that anti-inflammatory drugs taken in moderation and certainly under supervision are just as important,” adds Giordano.
Preconditioning the body, explains Giordano, could also help reduce brain fog, which involves inducing a mild inflammatory state in the body to which the body can then adapt.
“For example, one of the beneficial effects of exercise is that it produces a mild inflammatory state which then acclimates the body to be able to respond more appropriately and then develop anti-inflammatory mechanisms. It essentially creates an adaptive, responsive and resilient state, ”he explains, adding that increasing activity levels (daily walking, jogging, yoga, etc.) could be helpful in the short and long term. As discussed above, exercise could be a catalyst for brain fog, so it’s important to understand the relationship between your activity levels, type of activity, and the experience of brain fog.
As always, however, if you find that your symptoms are seriously interfering with your daily activities, it is highly recommended that you seek medical assistance.
“The thing that becomes important, as with any neuropsychiatric sign or symptom, is that you should always be referred to a clinician,” says Giordano.
What about the brain fog supplements I’ve seen online?
Maybe you’ve seen powders, elixirs, and even chocolates from wellness brands like Moon Juice and Sakara, which claim to help with clarity, energy, and focus. These are called nootropics – any drug, supplement, or substance that affects cognitive processes. Giordano tells me that there is actually a lot of interest and effort to explore, understand, and develop more effective nootropic nutrition and even medication.
Like everything panaceas touted by wellness brands, these types of nootropics sold by trendy, health-focused lifestyle companies should be taken with a grain of salt. But they might not be a total hoax.
“[When] One particular business entity claims their product contains adaptogens – nutritional elements that have been suggested or shown to be nootropic – what we’re looking for is what’s the truth in the ad? And there can be a lot of truth in advertising, ”says Giordano.
“There are a lot of things that have been identified as potential adaptogens and even as nootropics. And we know that their activity has been shown in laboratory experiments to affect an individual’s abilities due to some element of their cognitive skills. Will it work for everyone? No. A lot of these companies put together a number of different agents and try to combine various adaptogens into a nootropic formula, ”he adds.
In fact, I had the opportunity to try Sakara’s Nootropic Chocolates, organic dark cocoa bites with unrefined coconut sugar and natural peppermint which are said to provide “instant energy,” cerebral clarity and concentration ”. Now maybe it’s a placebo effect (with which, for the record, I totally agree), how tasty the chocolates were Where their legitimate ability to naturally improve their cognitive functions, but since eating 1-2 chocolates a day this week, I have felt more awake, energized and focused. (And although I almost missed a Zoom meeting yesterday, I only remembered two minutes after it started, which I consider an improvement.)
Of course, as Giordano notes, not all supplements, or even drugs for that matter, will work for everyone.
“I think there is a kind of search for the quick fix, but it becomes very important for consumers to be wary, to be wary of quality control and where they buy their products, but only from reliable sources and also to do so in a careful and prudent manner.
Ultimately, however, brain fog can be approached in a variety of ways – whether it’s an anti-inflammatory diet or a few dozen pieces of nootropic chocolates – regardless of how it manifests. Now all you have to do is find the right combination of products and lifestyle changes that are right for you.
This article was featured in the Internal hook bulletin. Register now.