Brain Fog: When It’s Normal and When to See a Doctor

A Sedentary Lifestyle Can Make You Foggy Research shows a sedentary lifestyle has a lot of consequences and generally increases your risk of mortality, heart disease,… Samantha Davis - November 29, 2022
A sedentary lifestyle is dangerous to your overall health. Shutterstock.

A Sedentary Lifestyle Can Make You Foggy

Research shows a sedentary lifestyle has a lot of consequences and generally increases your risk of mortality, heart disease, and cancers. Whether you are physically active affects much more than just your weight. Physical activity helps burn off cortisol that accumulates in your body over time. Additionally, it encourages blood flow that sends nutrients to the brain. This helps with the formation of new brain cells that eliminate some of that foggy feeling. In addition to brain benefits, physical activity is also important for keeping your physical body healthy, including your joints and cardiovascular system.

People with chronic dry eyes and brain fog could be struggling with Sjorgen’s syndrome. Shutterstock.

Brain Fog with Dry Eyes Could Be Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease that doesn’t have a lot of noticeable symptoms. However, if you are experiencing mental cloudiness paired with dry eyes, it could be because your body is attacking healthy tissue and causing swelling in your tear ducts and saliva glands. This makes it hard for your body to produce tears and saliva. It can even make it hard for some people to have sex without another form of lubrication. While researchers aren’t sure what causes Sjogren’s syndrome, it’s worth talking to your doctor about testing if you have these symptoms.

A severe migraine could be an inconvenience, or a sign of something serious like a blood clot or stroke. Shutterstock.

Brain Fog with a Migraine Could Be Serious

People often brush off their migraine as a bad headache or something to do with their sinuses. However, migraines can be serious. They affect 1 in 6 people, with women in their 30s and 40s and people with a family history most likely to be affected. Migraines cause brain fog because they are triggered by an inflammatory response in the brain that causes pain and other neurological symptoms. Migraines can be serious or even early signs of a stroke, so if you experience confusion, difficulty speaking, numbness, or other severe symptoms, it’s worth being evaluated.

Some insects and spiders cause serious neurological symptoms. Shutterstock.

Bites or Rashes with Brain Fog Could Be Serious

Some insects and arachnids carry disease with their bites. One of the more common bites that cause brain fog is a tick bite. Ticks sometimes carry Lyme disease. Spider bites from a Black Widow or another toxic critter can also cause neurological symptoms. Earlier mental symptoms include confusion, trouble holding a conversation, and problems finding the right word. However, you are more likely to notice the pain during or after a bite than the mental symptoms. Ticks leave behind a “bulls-eye” pattern, while a Black Widow bite becomes red and swollen over time.

The people around you might notice symptoms before you- listen. Shutterstock.

See a Doctor if Other People Notice Your Brain Fog

One of the problems with brain fog is that it isn’t always easily noticed in milder cases. It’s also easy to brush forgetfulness off as something that just “happens” when we’re a little sleepy. However, if brain fog is impacting your life or its effects are severe enough that other people notice, it might be time to see a doctor. Often, the people we are closest to might notice symptoms before we do. It’s not always easy to hear that your brain isn’t doing what it should, but recognizing the problem earlier means finding a solution sooner.

Take note of any symptoms occurring with brain fog so you can bring them up to your doctor. Shutterstock.

Brain Fog and Other Symptoms

Being aware of other symptoms that present with brain fog also helps with determining the cause of brain fog and the best course of treatment. The way brain fog is treated changes based on the cause. In some cases medication is beneficial. For others, it’s best to manage symptoms by making dietary changes or reducing stress. There are also apps to create reminders to help manage your symptoms. Since brain fog comes and goes, track when you feel foggy and other symptoms. Your doctor will use this information and other diagnostic tests to help you find a solution.

Being aware of your family history of disease helps you watch for certain symptoms. Shutterstock.

Talk to Your Doctor if You Have a Family History of Neurological Problems

While people develop neurological conditions for many different reasons, family genetics plays a big role in what conditions you are more likely to end up with. This is especially true with conditions like multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease. They aren’t necessarily passed down through families, but they have certain genetic markers that are passed down. There is no guarantee that you’ll end up with a condition because you are genetically predisposed. However, it does mean that if you have neurological symptoms like persistent brain fog, it is worth discussing with your doctor.

Medicine is always advancing, so ask your doctor about new ways to manage symptoms at your annual checkup. Shutterstock.

Chronic Conditions and Annual Checkups

For people with chronic conditions, it’s easy to push off brain fog as “just another symptom” that you have to learn to deal with. However, brain fog that doesn’t seem to go away or that has gotten worse could be a sign that you need to take different steps to manage your condition. The best thing to do is to keep a journal of symptoms and document when you are experiencing brain fog. Your doctor may be able to use this information at your annual checkup to help you come up with a plan for treating it.


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