How to Prevent Brain Fog

A plastic model of the human brain, split to show mid-sagittal view of the brain

It felt like COVID-19 ate my brain.

I had contracted the disease in late 2021, despite frequent masking and being double-vaccinated. I attribute it to the one fateful weekend I decided to mask up and explore a bustling downtown, getting lost and traversing through large crowds in an indoor shopping mall. Throughout my subsequent 10-day quarantine period, my symptoms seemingly dissipated over time. I felt better each night of increasingly restful sleep. I tested negative on the rapid antigen test, elated to be finally done with these ‘mild’ symptoms that hit me like a ton of bricks.

My celebration was short-lived as soon after, a fog wrapped itself around my temples and clamped itself tight. It was like a cloud of buzzing static lay dormant in the space where my brain was supposed to be. When I tried to remember where I saved some files in my computer, suddenly the cloud grew dense and it hurt to try to string two thoughts together. I couldn’t remember why I stepped into a particular room. I had to focus my thoughts at a much slower pace when trying to do work.

This was brain fog. It was disorienting and alarming.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog isn’t a specific medical condition. It’s a term that describes a series of cognitive dysfunctions that make it hard to think. Examples of these symptoms are forgetfulness, mental fatigue, having trouble with focus and concentration, and feeling confused.

What causes brain fog?

There are several conditions and lifestyle events that can cause brain fog, also known as mental fatigue. Identifying the underlying causes are useful for creating the strategies most helpful and tailored to preventing your own triggers for brain fog, with help from a medical professional.

Common causes of brain fog

· Chronic stress

· Poor sleep quality

· Depression and anxiety

· Menopause

· Medical conditions. Some of these conditions are COVID-19, chronic fatigue syndrome, hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular disease, and POTS.

Strategies to Prevent Brain Fog

Finding the correct strategies to prevent brain fog may need further consultation with a medical professional after finding out what causes your brain fog.

Home remedies have additional benefits of potentially improving potential quality of life. Here are some preventive strategies to consider:

· Exercise

· Meditate

· Play games that encourage cognitive improvement, like puzzles and brain teasers

· Take up hobbies that relax you

· Get restful sleep

· Avoid high intake of caffeine and alcohol

· Drink more water

· Eat proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats

This can easier be said than done for a lot of people, but small changes can add up exponentially. Stress management at the workplace may involve taking extensive notes and making decisions with respect to your boundaries.

Months after recovering from COVID-19, I continue to experience bouts of brain fog. I will have good cognitive days, then some days where the fog rolls in and I’m faced with navigating through the familiar headaches. I am learning how to better understand my own triggers for brain fog, incorporating incremental at-home strategies and different foods in my diet to better set myself up for success.

This is not professional medical advice. If you are interested in learning more about your own brain fog, please consult with a doctor or medical professional for the best course of action for your needs.

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