What Causes Long Term Brain Fog?
Have you ever found yourself unable to concentrate or focus, forgetting simple things, or struggling to find the right words in a conversation? These are all symptoms associated with brain fog. Brain fog is not a specific medical condition but rather a term that describes problems with focus, memory, logic, and problem solving. Long term brain fog is typically caused by an underlying medical or lifestyle problem. The treatment for long term brain fog involves identifying and correcting the underlying cause.
7 Common Causes of Long Term Brain Fog
- Stress – Prolonged periods of stress (lasting more than two weeks) can cause mental and physical exhaustion. Chronic stress increases blood pressure, weakens the immune system, and fatigues the brain, making it difficult to think, reason and focus. Chronic stress can be triggered by work or relationship problems, fear, or grief. Activities that help you de-stress also allow the brain to relax from its state of hyper-vigilence, giving it time to rest and recover.
- Insufficient sleep – Too little (less than 7-8 hours) or poor quality sleep takes a toll on the brain. Our brains do a ton of housekeeping while we sleep: clearing out waste, processing information, and converting short-term memories into long-term memories. Without sufficient sleep, our brains become bogged down and sluggish – similar to how an old computer becomes slow and starts to malfunction. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, or poor sleep hygiene can contribute to insufficient sleep.
- Food sensitivities – Allergies or sensitivities to certain foods (such as aspartame, MSG, gluten and dairy) can cause a variety of symptoms, including brain fog, for hours or days after consumption. Your doctor should screen you for food allergies and sensitivities. Removing those foods from your diet will clear away the brain fog.
- Vitamin deficiencies – The brain requires a wide range of nutrients in order to function properly. A lack of vitamins such as B12 can cause fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of focus. Your doctor can assess your diet to determine whether you are consuming enough vitamins and also run blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies.
- Underactive thyroid – The thyroid produces hormones which influence nearly all metabolic processes in the body. When the thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones, you can experience chronic fatigue, unexplained weight gain, and brain fog. Thyroid disorders are among the most common endocrine disorders and affect women nearly ten times more often than men. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 8 women have a thyroid problem. If you’re experiencing brain fog and other symptoms of hypothyroidism, your doctor will conduct a blood test to check your thyroid levels.
- Multiple sclerosis – Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system attacks and destroys the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. When this protective coating is damaged, the messages that travel along the nerves can be slowed or blocked. This can make it difficult to concentrate, problem solve, focus, or even speak. In MS, brain fog is accompanied by muscle weakness and numbness, vision problems, and trouble walking.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome – Long term brain fog is common among people with chronic fatigue syndrome, along with extreme exhaustion, joint or muscle pain, and sensitivities to light, sounds and smells. While much is still unknown about chronic fatigue syndrome, Dr. Minni Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM can help alleviate your symptoms.
Medical conditions that are associated with inflammation, fatigue, or fluctuations in glucose levels can also cause long term brain fog, including fibromyalgia, anemia, diabetes and lupus. If you’re suffering from long term brain fog, call Anchor Wellness Center today at (832) 246-8437 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Malhotra is Board Certified in Family Medicine as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. As such, she knows how to identify and treat the underlying cause of your brain fog and bring you relief.