Have you ever experienced lapses in your short-term memory? Have you lost your sense of direction? Were you once the co-pilot because of your navigation abilities, yet now you have trouble finding your way to the grocery store?
These are some examples of brain fog (also known as fibro fog), a cognitive symptom of fibromyaliga and other chronic illnesses. It’s the inability to remember or stay focused, and it’s often experienced among those who have the illness. When you have brain fog along with other fibromyalgia symptoms, finding relief can be a challenge. Plus, coping strategies can vary widely from one person to the next. Activities like writing, keeping lists, journaling, jotting down notes on your phone, and using scheduling apps are just a few ways to tackle the cognitive impairment associated with fibromyalgia.
Following is a brain fog symptom checklist to see ways in which it can manifest in people with fibromyalgia.
Brain Fog Symptom Checklist
[ ] Difficulty finding commonly used words
[ ] Dyslexia (transposition of letters or numbers)
[ ] Losing your train of thought mid-sentence
[ ] Forgetting the names of people close to you
[ ] Inability to follow simple instructions
[ ] Difficulty navigating to a familiar destination
[ ] Loss of spatial awareness or where objects are in relationship to your body
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[ ] Inability to focus or multitask
[ ] Short-term memory problems
[ ] Frustration
The severity of brain fog ranges from one patient to another, but the more boxes you’ve checked, the more likely the cognitive disturbance is playing a significant role role in your fibromyaliga symptoms. Despite the terminology used to describe the collective set of symptoms, brain fog can be personally devastating, too. It is easy to become distracted, embarrassed, or isolated. We fear others will take our memory lapses personally, especially if it is a name or an outing we planned. But it’s important to be easy on ourselves when we experience mental fogginess, because sending negative information to our already foggy brain perpetuates the problem even further.
What Factors Contribute to Brain fog?
There are a myriad of overlapping medical conditions that can cause or worsen brain fog. They include:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Pain
- Metabolic disorders
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Sleep disruption
- Non-restorative sleep
- Anxiety, stress, or depression
- Mental or physical fatigue
- Diet high in carbohydrates
- Nutritional deficiency or bowel malabsorption
- Food sensitivities and intolerances
- Toxicity, such as mold or metal
- Some other medical condition affecting the brain or blood flow
If you suspect your brain fog may be related to one or more of the above conditions, talk to your doctor about which testing and treatment options are right for you. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and addressing brain fog in conjunction with other fibromyalgia treatments can help improve your cognitive functioning and help you heal.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and to those around you. If someone says you forgot something, you probably did. Own up to it instead of arguing a moot point. Eventually, those important to us will begin to understand our difficulties, but they can only accept it if we do.
Further Reading On Brain Fog
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on November 15, 2016 and was updated on July 27, 2019.