What is brain fog?
Brain fog is described as sluggish, slow, or unconcentrated thinking. While you currently can’t diagnose brain fog as a medical condition, it does represent particular symptoms that affect one’s mental clarity and ability to think at an optimal capacity. Simple tasks may be more difficult than unusual, it is harder to retain details, and the mental edge can feel duller, almost as if trying to think in a thick fog, as if someone asked you to do algebra immediately upon waking you up in the morning.
In recent years brain fog has been closely associated with COVID-19. Post-COVID syndrome, also known as long-haul, long COVID-19, which includes a vast array of health issues that occur weeks, months, or years after recovering from an initial COVID-19 infection. This wide range of symptoms of long haul COVID-19 includes cognitive difficulties such as brain fog, also now being referred to as “covid brain fog.”
Symptoms of brain fog
Brain fog, whether or not it is associated with long-term covid recovery, has several characteristics that can be wide-ranging. Some cognitive symptoms of brain fog or covid brain fog include:
- Feeling confused or disoriented
- Being chronically fatigued
- Thinking slower than usual
- Requires increased time to complete simple tasks.
- Difficulty organizing activities
- Difficulty focusing or getting easily distracted
- Difficulty organizing thoughts
- Slowed cognitive function and memory recall
- Losing your train of thought
- Mood swings
- Frequent headaches
While brain fog coincides with several health conditions, suffering from COVID specifically may bring its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to cognition.
Symptoms of COVID brain fog (brain fog associated with COVID-19)
Among people who were hospitalized for or experienced severe moderate to severe cases of COVID, a wide range of issues with cognition have been reported. They include difficulties with
- Attention – which provides our brains the ability to process information in our environment while also ignoring insignificant details.
- Memory – which is the ability to understand, store, remember, and then retrieve information.
- Executive function – which includes extensively complex skills such as self-monitoring, problem-solving, focusing concentration, recalling instructions, and multitasking.
Due to COVID-19 being such a new occurrence in the general population, little is known as to how exactly the virus affects the brains of those infected, only that it does. That being said, if you are experiencing severe or hindering symptoms of long COVID and/or brain fog, it is important to seek medical attention from your provider.
How does this self-assessment work?
For each of the following questions, you will be asked to select one of the following options to indicate the frequency of your symptoms: never, very rarely, rarely, occasionally, frequently, or always. Your unique answers will then be used to calculate your results and determine whether your brain fog symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe. Further unique educational information will be shown in accordance with your results, and all results are strictly confidential.
Please note and acknowledge that this short assessment is not intended to establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician or health care professional, or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The aim of this brain fog quiz is to provide education about the condition. By filling out this self-assessment and clicking “calculate” you acknowledge that you’ve read and agree with this statement and agree to re-origin’s Terms & Conditions.
Overview of brain fog and cognitive impairment
Cognition is defined as all brain processing required for our understanding of thoughts, experiences, emotional responses, logical reason, and senses, as well as the acquisition of knowledge. A major component of cognition is called executive function. Executive function includes:
- Attention to goal-directed behavior
- Cognitive flexibility
- Planning and problem-solving
- Integrating senses while using thought processes
- Emotional regulation
Executive function allows you to have the proper capacity to operate in day-to-day activities. Well, what happens when the brain is a little “off,” not on top of its game? Brain fog is one of those issues many people face, especially those suffering from long-haul covid, known as long-haulers. Here we will discuss what brain fog is, the symptoms, how it is detected, associated health risks, and possible treatment options.
Health risks related to brain fog
The nature of this particular symptom seems to correlate with changes in executive function which can pose their own challenges and even risks. For instance, difficulty concentrating can lead to automobile accidents or injury during intense physical activities. Issues with memory can also pose risks when completing day-to-day activities in terms of operating machinery, kitchen appliances, or heavy equipment.
The stress and frustration when dealing with brain fog can also hinder a person’s mental well-being, social activities, and work productivity. Social isolation and loss of productivity can lead to other disorders, such as anxiety or depression, each with its own individual risks to one’s health.
How to manage brain fog
Treatments for brain fog depend on the cause. Common treatment methods include lifestyle changes such as dietary changes, mediation for stress reduction, and sleep deprivation. If it is suspected that brain fog was brought on by long-haul COVID, it is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) that you participate in regular exercise (very mild while you recover), abstain from alcohol, and start doing mentally engaging activities such as sudoku or brain puzzles.
At re-origin, we focus on the root cause of brain fog and other neuro-cognitive symptoms. By calming the innate stress response, many of our program participants find that their symptoms naturally begin to subside. Click here to learn more about our program and approach to improving mental clarity.