Brain fog, although not a standalone ailment, is a prominent indication associated with numerous disorders. These include, among other common health anomalies like severe dehydration, iron-deficiency anaemia, diabetes mellitus, anxiety and depression - COVID-19 - the contagious viral illness of the upper respiratory tract, that is presently rampant across the world.
Brain fog is characterized by periods of feeling fuzzy and pounding headaches, accompanied by poor memory, lack of concentration and difficulty to focus on any activity, be it at work or home.
Also referred to as clouding of consciousness or mental fog, this neurological occurrence is widely exhibited by patients who have contracted the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection. Persistent mental confusion in brain fog being an unavoidable consequence of COVID-19, this bears striking similarities to the symptoms witnessed in previous coronavirus outbreaks among humans, namely SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). However, in addition to coronavirus infection and other lung complications, brain fog can be triggered due to numerous other reasons. Thus, identifying the exact cause of brain fog aids in the accurate diagnosis of underlying conditions in the affected person, to provide prompt medical treatment for their complete recovery.
Causes Of Brain Fog:
Brain fog can be initiated due to stress, depression, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, anxiety and even dehydration. Since all these syndromes and illnesses lead to severe mental fatigue, the brain gets drained of energy, making it challenging to concentrate. Hormonal fluctuations also trigger brain fog. In women, this occurs during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, reducing clarity in the mind and leading to a decline in memory and focus.
Other factors contributing to brain fog and diet and medications. Certain food allergies, vitamin B-12, iron deficiencies and prescription medications cause sudden clouding of the mind and lasting headaches. These gradually diminish once the food substance is avoided, vitamin B-12, iron supplements are ingested and the dosage of drugs is lowered.
Furthermore, people suffering from chronic ailments like diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism and autoimmune sicknesses like multiple sclerosis, lupus also experience episodes of brain fog.
The distinguishing signs of brain fog consist of:
- Memory loss, with a decline in concentration
- Inability to focus clearly on any activity
- Blurry vision
- Mental confusion and total absence of comprehension
- Throbbing headaches
- Lack of rational thinking, good judgment and understanding
Once brain fog recurs often within a week, or if the instance of clouding of consciousness instigates much pain and discomfort, hampering productivity and daily activity, it is advised to visit the doctor at once.
There is no single diagnostic assay to determine brain fog. Since it is a symptom of an underlying condition, neurologists initially conduct an external physical exam and a questionnaire, to know the diet, medication, sleep and exercise regime of the patient. Blood samples are taken, to look for anomalies in levels of blood glucose, deficiency of essential nutrients, irregularities in liver function and kidney activity. They also help gauge if any inflammatory or autoimmune ailments are already pre-existing in the patient.
Once the precise reason for brain fog is established, the physician recommends pertinent diet modifications and sleep habits to adhere to, to ensure the brain gets ample rest on a daily basis and does not undergo severe fatigue. In addition, relevant prescription drugs are given, to rectify the underlying diseases that trigger brain fog. This assures the optimal recovery of the patient and restores their mental capacities.
Experiencing prolonged phases of mental fatigue and incessant headaches is undoubtedly exhausting for the affected person, especially those who are either corona positive or have just recovered from the infection. Here are some simple tips to overcome brain fog often witnessed during COVID-19 and even post-recovery.
Eat More Mood-Boosting Foods
While fighting an infection such as COVID-19, not only does the body become weak physically, but the mental capabilities of the individual also decline considerably owing to brain fog. It is hence important to make slight modifications to the daily diet by incorporating some mood-boosting foods, which contain neuroprotective and stimulant traits, to enhance nervous system functions. Nourishing foods that improve mood and memory and supply energy to the brain include bananas, nuts, dark chocolate, berries and beverages such as coffee and green tea.
Perform Aerobic Exercises
Numerous scientific studies have established the fantastic benefits of merely 30 minutes of physical activity every day, for a fit body as well as a sound mind. However, since the body is still recuperating from coronavirus infection, doctors suggest starting slow, with 5 minutes of simple aerobic exercises - rhythmic stretching and bending motions daily. Then gradually, the duration can be increased to 10, 15, 20 minutes over two months and finally 30-minute workouts with strength training, to resolve brain fog or clouding of consciousness.
Engage In Holistic Pursuits
Encountering COVID-19 and treating it with medications prescribed by the doctor is quite overwhelming for the patient irrespective of their age and with the added problem of brain fog, can often result in anxiety and depression. The afflicted individuals should thus try to distract their minds from the burden of coronavirus infection and instead focus on constructive hobbies such as listening to music, painting, yoga, meditation which positively influence thinking and cognitive skills of memory, concentration and intellect.