Navigating Your Way Through Brain Fog
Navigating Your Way Through Brain Fog. Brain fog is a symptom of several chronic pain problems, notably fibromyalgia, from where it gets the commonly used name of fibro fog. It can accompany a number of medical conditions, including vascular problems, diabetes, and as a result of contact with a toxic substance. It is also a side effect of chemotherapy treatment used for cancer patients. Whatever the health issue that gives rise to brain fog, the effects are broadly similar. In combination with the chronic fatigue that is a frequent symptom of pain conditions, it can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
How does it feel to have brain or fibro fog?
Your brain is likely to feel like it is marinating in syrup, or clogged with dust like a vacuum cleaner filter. You’d shake it if you didn’t know it would hurt, just to try and clear whatever is blocking your circuits. If your head was an electrical appliance that was on the fritz, you’d want to give it a hefty whack to bring it back to life. You might imagine being able to remove your brain and give it a scrub under the tap, or flushing it with a sink unblocking fluid. However you interpret your experience it will be a representation of having problems with transmitting information through the brain, affecting your thought processes, making concentration difficult, and causing forgetfulness.
Brain fog and memory
It can seem as though you can’t remember what you’re doing or where you should be from one minute to the next. In fact, you will be accomplishing the majority of your daily tasks, but you will tend to notice the increasing incidences of forgetfulness. It’s common to think of something you need to do, like writing a birthday card, at a point in time when you can’t attend to it straightaway – for instance when you’re driving; but then forgetting about it by the time you arrive home. Struggling with forgetfulness can have an effect on your home and work life, leading to increased levels of stress. This increase in stress can make the problem worse, so learning relaxation techniques and taking control of your memory issues is important. Meditation, mindfulness and yoga have been shown to be effective in dealing with stress, helping you to break the pain-stress-brain fog cycle. You can help yourself to minimize the effects of your forgetfulness by making notes for yourself, for example a list of what you need to do each day before heading out the door. Or you could use a home assistant like Amazon’s Echo or Google Home to ask for reminders and make notes of things to deal with later. One clever trick when you can’t remember a fact is a variation of the switch-hit method used for people with speech impediments. Instead of trying to bulldoze your way to an answer, getting increasingly frustrated and no nearer your goal, divert your brain onto an entirely different topic. You may well find that the answer pops magically into your head.
Brain fog or dementia?
Everyone experiences moments where they forget why they went back into a room, lose their keys, or can’t remember someone’s name. It tends to happen more frequently with age, which research claims may due to the increase in information stored in the brain making access slower at times. If these memory losses start to become severe, you or your family might suspect a form of dementia could be responsible. Brain fog is similar to the onset of dementia in that your thinking becomes clouded and you become more forgetful. However, the more extreme symptoms of dementia such as forgetting where you live, or your own name, are not typical of a brain fog. That being said, it’s important to check these symptoms with your doctor, because the earlier dementia is treated the more favourable the outcome is likely to be.
Treatments for brain fog
The more you can do to relieve the underlying causes, the more chance you have of reducing the impact of brain fog. Therefore the first step is to get a diagnosis and assessment of your condition from a specialist clinic like Piedmont Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the most appropriate treatments for that condition can be instigated. In terms of self-help, relaxation methods as mentioned above will be very helpful. Also keeping your brain stimulated and your body exercised will benefit your health, as will sufficient rest and good quality sleep. Unfortunately, these activities can be difficult when you have a chronic pain condition, but with help from a specialist team you should find ways to manage your pain more effectively, leading to more restful sleep and an improvement in your symptoms.