What is brain fog?
The inability to focus or think is a symptom of brain fog, a typically transient condition of reduced mental capacity. You can have difficulty focusing, recalling items, processing knowledge, or coming up with words resulting from your clouded consciousness. While it isn’t a medical condition in itself, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, lupus, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, anxiety, and depression are common symptoms.
“Brain fog” is not one of the most frequent symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Still, many patients complain that it affects their ability to concentrate, learn, retain knowledge, and keep a job.
What is EDS?
EDS is a category of genetic disorders that affect the connective tissues that give joints, skin, blood vessels, and other tissues and organs their structure. Symptoms of EDS may range from swollen joints to life-threatening complications, depending on the type. People with hypermobile EDS (hEDS) often complain of brain fog.
Brain fog in EDS
Many people who have hEDS/HSD even have brain fog. They may become perplexed, unable to process information or forget things for no apparent reason. Although the exact cause of hEDS/HSD is unknown, it is believed to have similar causes to fatigue. As a result, managing exhaustion can also assist with episodes of brain fog.
Factors contributing to brain fog
Several other factors can contribute to or exacerbate brain fog, and making a few minor lifestyle changes can help.
- Hormones play a role in exhaustion and mental fog. Many women report that their brain fog worsens during their menstrual cycle and pregnancy. When women are on some birth control or hormone medications, their symptoms can intensify.
- Fatigue and brain fog may be caused or worsened by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It’s important to eat a safe, well-balanced diet, and if your symptoms are serious, your doctor can order a blood test to see if you have any particular deficiencies.
- Anemia (iron deficiency), B vitamin and vitamin D deficiency, and potassium deficiency are among them. If you have a deficiency, taking supplements can help with the symptoms.
- However, you should still consult your doctor before taking any drugs or supplements, particularly if you are taking prescription medication.
- Some medications can make you feel tired and foggy. Antihistamines, cough medicines, pain relievers, and antidepressants are among them. If you are concerned that these are causing you issues, you should speak with your doctor. Your doc may be able to switch your prescription to one that doesn’t cause the side effects.
Various other factors can also cause fatigue and brain fog, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, alcohol and drug abuse, emphysema, and obesity. The effects of these conditions can be alleviated by successfully managing them.
What are the causes of brain fog?
According to some experts, brain fog in hEDS is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain caused by blood pooling in the lower body extremities due to stretchy veins. More research is required, however, to prove this correlation.
What aggravates the situation?
Excessive mental activity, like excessive physical activity, can trigger or aggravate brain fog and other cognitive issues.
A person’s overall mental health often influences the intensity of brain fog. Depression or anxiety, for example, can intensify cognitive dysfunction.
Although brain fog is not progressive or related to a decline in intelligence, it is important to remember that it can be perplexing and demoralizing to a person’s self-esteem and trust. Patients are affected by brain fog to varying degrees and with varying frequency. However, according to an online survey conducted by the ME Association (an organization dedicated to treating chronic fatigue syndrome), one-third of respondents believe that brain fog is the most persistent and debilitating feature of the chronic condition that is frequently aggravated by mental exertion. “In the same way as too much physical exercise can rapidly cause muscle exhaustion, excessive or extreme mental activity will carry or intensify brain fragile and the cognitive disorders that follow it,” says Dr. Charles Shepherd, the ME Association’s medical advisor.
Hormones can affect fatigue and brain fog in addition to POTS. Many women have complained of worsened brain fog during menstruation or pregnancy, and they’ve discovered that birth control can either exacerbate or relieve symptoms, depending on the medication and patient.
As discussed above, brain fog may also be caused or exacerbated by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It’s crucial to eat a safe, balanced diet, and if your symptoms are serious, your doctor can order blood tests to see if you’re deficient in any particular nutrients. Anemia (iron deficiency), vitamin D, vitamin B, and potassium are common deficiencies linked to brain fog.
To prevent being distracted, many people find that “pacing” — or juggling exercise with rest — is the best way to manage brain fog. This definition is similar to the spoon principle for those with EDS. Patients can find a stable baseline of mental exertion by focusing on energy conservation and then breaking it down into short, manageable sessions with rest periods in between.
What is the best way to manage brain fog (EDS)?
As you can see, coping with brain fog symptoms is a multifaceted procedure involving a lot of trial and error. Here are a few more ideas to help you manage your brain fog.
- If you have short-term memory loss, maintaining lists and journals of your everyday tasks and responsibilities will help; make sure you refer to them many times a day!
- Assign “homes” to your often misplaced objects; if you’re prone to misplacing your keys or phone, set aside space in your home for them to live! Having permanent storage spaces for your belongings reduces stress and mental exhaustion during the day.
- When you’re learning something different, try repeating or rewriting it yourself. This will aid in the retention of new knowledge!
- Stay away from caffeine and sugar! While these treats can temporarily make you feel less tired, they can make fatigue worse. Sugar and caffeine consumption should be reduced or eliminated to minimize energy variability and help you feel more stable and less tired.
- Keep yourself hydrated. This appears to be a no-brainer, particularly for those who suffer from EDS/HSD. However, hydration is necessary to maintain a steady supply of blood to your brain, which aids brain function.
Above all, make sure you have the resources you need. It’s difficult to deal with brain fog and cognitive dysfunction, so make sure you have a support system in place to pick you up when you’re feeling down.