Brain Fog : Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Brain fog can be defined as the inability of a person to think, interpret, and memorize anything due to psychological overload. Due to brain fog, most people suffer from poor memory, inability to focus, lack of mental clarity, difficulty in concentrating, mental fatigue, forgetfulness, and cloudy thoughts. These symptoms of brain fog can be associated with several causes but none of the symptoms is characterized by any specific reason [1].

Long-Term Brain Fog

Long-term brain fog includes psychological disorders including depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s as these are long-term psychological issues. Mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s need to be treated professionally because these are neurodegenerative disorders leading to brain fog [2].

Causes of Brain Fog

  1. Hormonal Imbalance

There are several hormones that are responsible to maintain and regularize psychological functioning. Lack of thyroid hormones i.e. T3 and T4 are some of the primary reasons for brain fog because they regulate the brain functions such as thinking, memorizing, interpreting, and others [3].

Adrenal gland hormones also play a vital role in brain fogging including pregnenolone, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. These sex hormones mostly affect the women during pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and the post-partum period when their adrenal gland’s hormones usually get imbalanced. According to Yelland, 31% of pregnant women experience brain fog during all three or any one trimester of their pregnancy which is due to the increased progesterone level [4].

Cortisol is another hormone that is regarded as the reason for brain fogging as cortisol not only regulates the metabolism and immune system of the body but is a primary controller of psychological stress. Therefore, the greater the mental stress, the greater will be the cortisol level leading towards brain fog [3, 4]

  1. Vitamins Deficiency

Vitamins like Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K work coherently and concurrently to maintain brain functioning. These vitamins are crucial to prevent brain fogging as they are a source of keeping the brain healthy and functioning. According to research conducted by Croall et al, vitamins like Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 help in breaking down homocysteine which can be a cause of dementia and other neurological disorders. Moreover, vitamins are necessary for the production of energy through metabolism to develop brain cells and synapses. These are essential for memorizing, concentrating, focusing, and thinking [5].

  1. Mineral Deficiency

One of the most common causes of brain fog is a mineral deficiency as a majority of the people are mineral deficient and they are not even diagnosed promptly regarding mineral deficiency until serious symptoms are observed. Minerals like magnesium, iron, iodine, selenium, and zinc are essential to optimizing the brain’s mechanism of thinking, focusing, and memorizing. A recent study by Cascella et al suggested that minerals are required for the nerve transmission, sensory and motor signals to the brain, and lack of minerals can affect the nerve transmission resulting in brain fog. Moreover, minerals also control the hydration of the brain cells as well as they metabolize food nutrients to provide energy to the brain [6].

  1. Imbalanced Diet

An imbalanced diet is the most overlooked cause of brain fog because most people do not consider to intake a healthy and nutritious diet that contains all food nutrients and organic compounds necessary for brain functioning. Moreover, the increased use of redefined carbs, artificial sweeteners, and processed food has increased the incidence of brain fogging, whereas increased alcohol consumption greatly increased the probability of brain fog. Food allergies can also lead to brain fog because people with food allergies are usually deficient in various nutrients and healthy ingredients necessary for healthy brain functioning and they are usually unaware of their allergies. Moreover, Suzanne and Kril highlighted that the high rise in alcohol consumption is also a key reason for elevated brain fogging prevalence as it slows down the brain functioning and does not allow the brain to think, focus, concentrate, or memorize properly. Therefore, it is recommended by the medical professionals to consider these food elements while eating if they experience brain fog as controlling the imbalanced diet can effectively prevent brain fog [7].

  1. Medications

There is a long list of medicines that can be a reason for brain fog. Especially the medicines that are prescribed for long-term use, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, COPD, incontinence, and ulcers, increase the risk of brain fog [8]. However, LoBue et al described that people experiencing brain fog must try to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and other diseases through diet and exercise so that the medicines can be cut down to prevent the brain fog. Furthermore, the medicines like anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, sleeping aids, and Parkinson’s can cause brain fog as these medications interact with the chemical reactions taking place in the brain to optimize brain functioning and this interaction can result in brain fog [2]. Other than these, medical interventions for cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation, and opioids also cause brain fogging because they affect brain functioning indirectly. Besides this, Yelland suggested that people who are using anti-histamines, anti-acids, and anticholinergics should consult their healthcare provider for the treatment of brain fog [6].

  1. Toxins

The frequent intake of toxic agents in the form of mercury, arsenic, lead, toluene, lithium, and mold can negatively affect brain functioning. Intake of these toxins is mostly overlooked as magnesium present in fish, lead in household accessories, and silver amalgam in artificial teeth can be a cause of brain fog [5, 8].

Although the impact of these causes is not rapid appear in long-run but if a person is suffering from multiple imbalances like hormonal, vitamins, and minerals, and simultaneously consuming an imbalanced diet along with long-term medications, then the probability of brain fog is high and can lead to long-term psychological issues of depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s [2].

Brain Fog Treatment

The best way to treat brain fog at home is using Ask ASTR which is a free online tool that assesses brain functioning, possible causes of brain fog, just by asking to fill in a questionnaire that hardly takes 5-10 minutes. The tool is managed by 9 expert medical professionals, therefore it is valid, reliable, and professional medical software.

References 

  1. Aicardi C, Reinsborough M, Rose N. The integrated ethics and society programme of the Human Brain Project: reflecting on an ongoing experience. Journal of Responsible Innovation. 2018 Feb 12;5(1):13-37.
  2. LoBue C, Munro C, Schaffert J, Didehbani N, Hart Jr J, Batjer H, Cullum CM. Traumatic brain injury and risk of long-term brain changes, accumulation of pathological markers, and developing dementia: a review. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. 2019 Jan 1;70(3):629-54.
  3. Theoharides TC, Stewart JM, Hatziagelaki E. Brain “fog,” inflammation and obesity: key aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders improved by luteolin. Frontiers in neuroscience. 2015 Jul 3;9:225.
  4. Yelland GW. Gluten‐induced cognitive impairment (“brain fog”) in coeliac disease. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology. 2017 Mar;32:90-3.
  5. Croall ID, Hoggard N, Aziz I, Hadjivassiliou M, Sanders DS. Brain fog and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity: Proof of concept brain MRI pilot study. PloS one. 2020 Aug 28;15(8):e0238283.
  6. Cascella M, Di Napoli R, Carbone D, Cuomo GF, Bimonte S, Muzio MR. Chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment: mechanisms, clinical features and research perspectives. Recenti progressi in medicina. 2018 Nov 1;109(11):523-30.
  7. Suzanne M, Kril JJ. Human alcohol-related neuropathology. Acta neuropathologica. 2014 Jan 1;127(1):71-90.
  8. Reddy SD, Wu X, Kuruba R, Sridhar V, Reddy DS. Magnetic resonance imaging analysis of long‐term neuropathology after exposure to the nerve agent soman: correlation with histopathology and neurological dysfunction. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2020 Nov;1480(1):116-35.