Have you ever felt as though your brain just wasn’t working as well as it normally does? Maybe you kept making simple mistakes while working, struggled to recall things, or simply couldn’t take in any new information. This condition, brain fog, affects everyone at some point, but is particularly common in times of sickness or with certain medications.
Brain fog can feel a bit different for each person. For most people, it feels as if the brain is shrouded in fog so that focusing becomes difficult if not impossible. Others may describe it as having a head full of cotton or sludge. It can also feel like the stage between sleep and wakefulness.
To better explain how brain fog feels, some experts compare the brain to an old radio. Whenever it’s not tuned to the right station, static impedes the signal and makes it difficult to process information.
Usually, brain fog is temporary. However, in some circumstances, it may persist for a longer period. Because brain fog can have such a large impact on a person’s life and make even basic tasks difficult, long-lasting symptoms can be distressing. However, there are treatment options, and you can recover with professional medical help.
The Science Behind Brain Fog
Experts recognize a few different terms for what most people call “brain fog.” Some of these names include clouding of consciousness, disturbance of consciousness, and sluggish cognitive tempo. During attempts to uncover what brain fog actually is, many researchers have noted the similarities to delirium, even going so far as to refer to brain fog as “subsyndromal delirium.” Like brain fog, delirium is a type of decline in mental function that develops over a short period and causes disturbances in attention, cognition, and consciousness. However, brain fog is typically less severe than delirium and lasts a shorter amount of time.
Researchers are still attempting to uncover what is—and is not—responsible for brain fog. Currently, the leading thought is that there is a part of the brain that is responsible for regulating the brain’s “level” of consciousness, essentially creating awareness of ourselves and our environments. Illnesses and medications may disrupt this section of the brain and impact the level of consciousness, lowering wakefulness or arousal. This is why brain fog can sometimes make it feel like we’re stuck in a dream.
Typically, brain fog is the result of another medical condition. Some of the potential causes include:
- Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
- High blood pressure that damages the blood vessels
- Viral infections
- Autoimmune disorders
- Lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes
- Drug use
The notable symptoms of brain fog are inattention, comprehension issues, language problems, and thought process changes. However, despite these signs being clear, there is still no standard test to recognize and diagnose brain fog. Instead, it’s up to a medical professional to make a subjective diagnosis. Because of this, it is integral to find healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about brain fog and its key physical and mental features.
Neurorehab and Its Ability To Restore Brain Function
One of the newer, more cutting-edge options for managing conditions like brain fog is neurorehabilitation. Nearly every illness or medical issue has measurable symptoms that make a diagnosis possible. By utilizing biometrics and other diagnostic tools, we can identify issues like brain fog and build a treatment plan specific to each case.
Neurorehabilitation starts with a complete evaluation to test the functionality of certain parts of the brain. By using a quantitative electroencephalogram (qEEG), we can map the brain and track recovery progress throughout treatment. All a patient has to do is wear a simple head cap that is equipped with 19 sensitive electrodes. After “reading” the electrical activity of the brain, our experts are able to find areas of dysregulation, analyze those zones, and then plan potential solutions.
We also consider our patients’ clinical histories, symptoms, and unique information to provide the best possible treatment path. When speaking with a professional, make sure to talk about any and all symptoms that may relate to your particular issues with brain fog. This can include memory problems, cognitive issues, behavioral changes, or loss of time. Make sure to note when the issues first began and how long they have persisted. Doing so will paint a clearer picture of your condition and support a more successful recovery.
Brain fog stems from an issue with brain arousal. Once the qEEG has found which parts of the brain are more dysregulated than a typical brain, neurorehab can progress. Neurofeedback training guides problem areas to behave as they should. During neurofeedback training, a movie or similar stimulus will play on a screen. When the brain is working optimally, the screen will show the whole picture without any issues. If there is brain dysregulation, the stimulus will not play in full. Essentially, this training “teaches” the brain to regulate itself by using its inherent reward system. Over a number of sessions, neurofeedback training can restore healthy cognitive function.
Beyond qEEG-guided neurofeedback training, we also utilize innovative neurostimulation therapies that are scientifically proven to aid in the treatment of many brain conditions by providing cognitive enhancement. Applying continuous electromagnetic pulses to the scalp increases neuron activity and function, which then fights symptoms of brain fog like attention problems, memory loss, and other signs of neural dysfunction.
Ultimately, most cases of brain fog are temporary, so some people may wonder why they should seek treatment. Primarily, severe cases of brain fog can cause distress and affect a person’s quality of life. The drop in cognitive function might harm a person’s work or school performance or could even impact their relationships. (If you are struggling at work, we have suggestions for broaching the subject with HR and asking for help.) It may also be physically dangerous. Brain fog dramatically increases the risk of an accident while driving or operating heavy machinery. Even something simple like using a kitchen knife may lead to an injury during bouts of brain fog.
Beyond these factors, even if one instance of brain fog is temporary, there could be dysregulation in the brain that could cause it to reappear. Brain fog may be the result of serious issues like depression or drug use. At FHE Health, a comprehensive evaluation can help to identify the underlying issues that may be causing brain fog and treat them as well. If you or someone you know are experiencing brain fog symptoms or any of its potential causes, contact us online or call us at (833) 596-3502.