What is COVID-19 brain fog — and how can you clear it?

As a cognitive behavioral neurologist, I’ve been listening to from many people who’re complaining of “mind fog” after an infection with COVID-19. So I believed it was price discussing precisely what COVID-19 mind fog is, and a few issues to try this may assist clear it.

What’s mind fog?

Let’s begin by making an attempt to know mind fog. Mind fog will not be a medical or scientific time period; it’s utilized by people to explain how they really feel when their pondering is sluggish, fuzzy, and never sharp.

All of us expertise this sense once in a while. Maybe you couldn’t assume clearly if you have been sick with the flu or one other sickness. Perhaps you have been jet-lagged and your pondering was sluggish as a result of it felt prefer it was 2 AM. Or maybe you took an antihistamine or one other medicine that made your pondering fuzzy for a couple of hours. In every case you in all probability simply waited to get again to regular, whether or not that meant recovering out of your sickness, adjusting to the brand new time zone, or ready for the uncomfortable side effects of the medicine to put on off.

However what in case your pondering didn’t return to regular?

What’s COVID-19 mind fog?

Not too long ago I obtained an electronic mail from a person who described how he’s nonetheless combating “cognitive challenges” since recovering from the virus within the spring of 2020. His physician ran him via a checkup and a battery of assessments. Every little thing was regular, but his cognitive challenges stay. Like this man, many individuals who’ve recovered from the acute, life-threatening results of COVID-19, however nonetheless don’t really feel that their pondering and reminiscence are again to regular.

How COVID-19 impacts the mind

There are various ways in which COVID-19 can injury the mind. As I described in a earlier weblog publish, some may be devastating, similar to encephalitis, strokes, and lack of oxygen to the mind. However different results could also be extra refined, such because the persistent impairment in sustained consideration famous by Chinese language researchers.

Along with direct results on the mind, COVID-19 may also have long-term results on different organ techniques. So-called lengthy haulers can produce other lingering signs together with fatigue, physique aches, incapability to train, headache, and issue sleeping. A few of these issues could also be as a result of everlasting injury to their lungs, coronary heart, kidneys, or different organs. Injury to those organs — and even simply the signs by themselves — can impair pondering and reminiscence and trigger mind fog. For instance, how will you assume clearly in case you’re feeling fatigued and your physique is aching? How will you focus in case you have been up half the night time and awoke with a headache?

What do you have to do in case you could also be experiencing COVID-19 mind fog?

The primary and most necessary factor to do is to see your physician and share with them all the lingering signs you might be experiencing. These ought to embrace your mind fog and different neurologic signs (similar to weak spot, numbness, tingling, lack of odor or style), and in addition issues similar to shortness of breath, palpitations, and irregular urine or stool.

What may assist clear the mind fog?

To assist clear the mind fog, I like to recommend pursuing all the actions that we all know assist everybody’s pondering and reminiscence.

  • Carry out cardio train. You could want to start out gradual, maybe simply two to a few minutes a couple of occasions a day. Whereas there isn’t a established “dose” of train to enhance mind well being, it’s usually really helpful you’re employed towards half-hour a day, 5 days every week.
  • Eat Mediterranean-style meals. A nutritious diet together with olive oil, vegatables and fruits, nuts and beans, and complete grains has been confirmed to enhance pondering, reminiscence. and mind well being.
  • Keep away from alcohol and medicines. Give your mind one of the best probability to heal by avoiding substances which might adversely have an effect on it.
  • Sleep nicely. Sleep is a time when the mind and physique can filter out toxins and work towards therapeutic. Be sure you give your physique the sleep it wants.
  • Take part in social actions. We’re social animals. Not solely do social actions profit our moods, however they assist our pondering and reminiscence as nicely.
  • Pursue different helpful actions, together with participating in novel, cognitively stimulating actions; listening to music; training mindfulness; and conserving a optimistic psychological perspective.

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