What Is Brain fog?
Brain fog is a term used by individuals to describe how they feel when their thinking is sluggish, fuzzy, and not sharp. It is the uncomfortable feeling of being spaced out. It can make it difficult for you to focus on tasks at hand, remember things, or pay attention to what's going on around you. It can also make you feel out of sorts and unlike yourself.
It’s a symptom which we frequently observe in patients visiting the office. Whilst it is not necessarily a medical diagnosis, it is a very real issue that people experience. In fact, many people will feel this after a viral infection and brain fog has been identified as a long-lasting effect of COVID-19.
Characteristics Of Brain fog
Common characteristics include memory problems, lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, inability to focus, tension in the base of your neck, fatigue, and headaches. We all may experience this feeling from time to time, however when it persists for days, weeks, months, or longer it can be frustrating, mentally draining, and leaves sufferers looking for answers.
1 - Brain Fog is not currently a recognised medical diagnosis
Although brain fog is being increasingly reported by patients and is fast becoming a commonly used term in healthcare discussions it is not actually a recognised diagnosis. Due to some of it’s characteristics of confusion, low energy, and fatigue, brain fog is often diagnosed as depression or anxiety disorders. Although it can be linked with these conditions it is not always the case, therefore this diagnosis often leaves people frustrated.
2 - The exact cause is not known
Theories are beginning to emerge as to why brain fog may occur, however there is no one single cause that has been identified. Brain fog has been linked to lack of sleep, fluctuations in hormones, dietary deficiencies or food sensitivities, and medications. Brain fog is also associated with medical conditions linked with inflammation such as chronic fatigue syndrome. In our office, we often see brain fog reported by patients with migraines and meniere’s disease, as well as people who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
All of these factors may play a part, however there is one factor that links each of the possible causes, stress. Each of these factors produce stress within the body and if it does not have the ability to deal with that stress then the symptom of brain fog may occur.
3 - There is no agreed upon treatment for Brain Fog
Since there are multiple factors which may cause or contribute to brain fog and as it is not a recognised medical diagnosis, there is not yet an agreed upon treatment for it. Some healthcare providers may even dismiss brain fog and say it is depression or anxiety. This is often frustrating to the individual experiencing brain fog as they are left still looking for answers to their lived experience.
Advice around brain fog tends to include avoiding the behaviors, activities or substances that can trigger it. This advice may include spending less time looking at screens, dietary changes, prioritising sleep, regular exercise, avoiding alcohol or coffee, and positive thinking to reduce stress. However, not everyone has a trigger for brain fog and sometimes avoiding these stressors may not resolve the issue.
Brain Fog In Chiropractic Care
In our office we often see patients whose brain fog is a secondary symptom alongside other issues they may come to see us with. However, we have observed that it is often one of the first symptoms to reduce and resolve under our care. We have some ideas around why that may be but more investigation is needed into the exact mechanisms behind this observation. What we do know is that patients are grateful for the return of mental clarity and ability to think straight again after they have been adjusted.
How To Treat Brain Fog?
As Upper Cervical Chiropractors, our role is not to treat brian fog or any associated condition. Our goal is to correct dysfunction at the upper cervical spine in order to allow the nervous system to function at its optimal potential and allow healing to take place. When we remove interference to the nervous system we see a reduction in our patients’ symptoms, and brain fog is one of the first to go.
However, we recommend the following best practices to make symptoms more manageable:
- Reducing stress levels (wouldn't we all like that!).
- Getting more sleep 9+ hours.
- Drinking more water.
- Altering your diet, particularly removing high salt and sugar products, reducing dairy intake and supplementation with vitamin B-12/vitaminD3/omega 3/probiotics.
Ultimately, these methods that seek to improve the symptoms are based around lowering the amount of inflammation in the body.
If you have any questions about brain fog or how we help patients in our office book a free 15 minute call with us.
Please check out our blog section for more information.