Brain fog isn't a medical condition itself, but rather a symptom of other medical conditions. It's a type of cognitive dysfunction involving:
memory problems or lack of mental clarity
inability to focus
Some people also describe it as mental fatigue. Depending on the severity of brain fog, it can interfere with work or school.
What are the causes of brain fog?
There are numerous explanations for why brain fog occurs. Once you identify the underlying cause, you can begin fixing the problem. Here are six possible causes.
Chronic stress can increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, and trigger depression. It can also cause mental fatigue. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus.
2. Lack of sleep
Poor sleep quality can also interfere with how well your brain functions. Aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Sleeping too little can lead to poor concentration and cloudy thoughts.
3. Hormonal changes
Hormonal changes can also trigger brain fog. Levels of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen increase during pregnancy. This change can affect memory and cause short-term cognitive impairment.
Similarly, a drop in oestrogen level during menopause can cause forgetfulness, poor concentration, and cloudy thinking.
Diet can also play a role in brain fog. Vitamin B-12 supports healthy brain function, and a vitamin B-12 deficiency can bring about brain fog. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, brain fog may develop after eating certain foods. Possible culprits include:
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
Removing trigger foods from your diet may improve symptoms.
If you notice brain fog while taking medication, talk with your doctor. Brain fog may be a known side effect of the drug. Lowering your dosage or switching to another drug may improve your symptoms.
Brain fog can also occur after cancer treatments. This is referred to as chemo brain.
6. Medical conditions
Medical conditions associated with inflammation, fatigue, or changes in blood glucose level can also cause mental fatigue. For example, brain fog is a symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome, which involves persistent fatigue for longer than six months.
People who have fibromyalgia may experience similar fogginess on a daily basis.
Other conditions that may cause brain fog include:
Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis