Many people will have experienced a type of brain fog even if its just forgetting where in the car park they left the car. Stressful when that happens. But when you have a brain injury it’s on another level, believe me. I can only describe my experience of it but for every person its different.
Firstly the inside of my head doesn’t feel normal. It feels like its full of stuffing and its bursting at the seems. It’s not painful like a headache, but its uncomfortable and distracting.
Imagine you need an important file. But the room the cabinet holding the file lives in has been completely filled with stuffing from floor to ceiling. You would be very frustrated, and maybe vocalising how stupid the person who left it like this is. Plus it would take you so much longer to get that file, making you get behind with what you had planned to do. By the time you had the file you would be tired from all the effort and still have to work out what to do with all the stuffing that you don’t know where it came from in the first place.
When I have brain fog I can find it difficult to follow what anyone is saying to me. I hear the words and I can understand what they mean on their own, but I can’t put the sentence together. So I might know what the subject might be but that’s it. For me this is more frustrating than someone trying to speak to me in a foreign language. At least then I know it’s because I’ve never learnt it. But brain fog, I should be able to follow at least, even if I don’t have he right answer.
There are some things that might help, or are at least worth a try when experiencing brain fog.
- Meditation – Stress can make the brain release the stress hormone cortisol. It’s job is the temporarily shut down some “unnecessary” functions so your body can focus on the cause of the stress. But meditation can help by reduces the stress levels, and therefore lowering the cortisol. This can help increase focus and concentration.
- Exercise – As our brains use 20% of all the energy and oxygen in our blood, raising your heart rate can help your brain by increasing the blood flow. This makes sure your brain gets more of what it needs.
- Sleep – If we have a lack of sleep it’s our brains that suffer the most. Sleep helps us to consolidate memories from the previous day and therefore aids the learning process. Having a nap will help in the short term, and you should try to ensure you get enough sleep every day.
- Stay hydrated – we all know that drinking enough fluids is important but still many of us don’t drink enough. Our brains are made up of 75% water so it’s not difficult to imagine how dehydration would cause a problem for the brain. Just 2% dehydration affects your attention, memory and other cognitive skills.
- Go outside – We get vitamin D from the sun. It’s estimated 1 billion people around the world are deficient in vitamin D. As well as helping ease brain fog, it improves your mood. Therefore it assists depression, improves memory, and increases problem solving ability.
Small changes in your diet might also assist your brain.
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids – found in fish such as salmon and sardines it’s essential to the brains health and aid memory. But if you can’t eat fish there are Omega-3 supplements that you can easily pick up.
- Arctic root – A herb used in Chinese medicine to be more resilient to stress, it can help reduce the amount of cortisol released.
- Citicoline – Available over the counter and increases blood flow to the brain. It is recommended for patients of brain injury and dementia as it raises levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which aids memory and learning.
- Magnesium – Available in many forms , but the best for brain fog is magnesium threonate. It easily crosses into the brain, where as many others don’t. Don’t go for magnesium sulphate, the kind found in Epsom salts. Fine for soaking your feet but should not be ingested. It has been known to cause brain fog!
Read another common cause for confusion you might experience in Confabulation is not lying. False memories due to brain injury.
What is brain fog like for you? Is there anything that you have found helps you avoid it or deal with it when it happens?