317 St. Francis Dr. Suite 350
Greenville, SC 29601

317 St. Francis Dr.
Suite 350
Greenville, SC 29601
Tel: 1-864-235-1834, Fax: 1-864-235-2486

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Brain Fog, Chemo Brain and Fibro Fog

Brain fog is an infrequent but significant symptom experienced by some patients in our Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson treatment areas.

Sometimes referred to as memory fog, chemo brain or fibro fog, brain fog is the inability to think clearly, focus or remember information. It can be a symptom of numerous medical problems, including diabetes, kidney, liver and bowel toxicity, vascular disorders, or Alzheimer’s disease. It frequently presents in association with chemotherapy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, food intolerance, or depression. Chronic pain or infection from any source can lead to brain fog as well.


Most often brain fog seems to creep up slowly. At first a lost key, pair of glasses or pen seems harmless enough, but then the frequency of forgetfulness increases to the point that it interferes both at work and at home. Unlike head injury or minimal traumatic brain injury, forgetfulness, decreased concentration and increased agitation may or may not accompany brain fog.

While doctors don’t really know what causes brain fog, there are some obvious answers. Lack of sleep is common. Poor nutrition, stress, and exposure to environmental poisons such as arsenic and mercury never help. Worry from any cause can preoccupy many to the point that they begin to forget other things that were once considered important.

Minimizing or eliminating these factors from your life whenever possible is always a good idea. Consulting a doctor familiar with environmental/wellness medicine to measure for their presence or prescribe treatments to get rid of them can be important. Naturally, anyone concerned about having progressive brain fog should see their doctor to make sure that medical diseases such as tumors, encephalitis or dementias are ruled out, or diagnosed and treated.

While certain medications that increase wakefulness, decrease stress and improve memory retention can help, other medications including calcium channel blockers (for hypertension), analgesics (for pain), antihistamines (for allergy or sinus), chemotherapy (for cancer) or hypnotics (for sleep) can all make memory worse. In general, reducing the number of medications taken to a minimum is a good idea.

One important self-help approach is to write down exactly what kind of information is being forgotten and under what circumstances. For example, assess if it is only “semantic” (factual or information based) memory that is being forgotten. Evaluate if you do a better job of remembering events or facts when they are associated with feelings, such as joy, laughter or sorrow. Your brain processes memory differently in these situations. Knowing the difference can help ascertain the cause of forgetfulness and lead to a treatment plan that will either reduce or eliminate the problem.