When was the last time you felt truly refreshed? How often do you use the phrase, “I’m just tired today?" Are you struggling to remember things? How often are you experiencing headaches or body aches?
Confusion, fatigue, difficulty concentrating… The symptoms of brain fog can be easy to pass off as a part of life, with many of us thinking that they're normal parts our busy lives. But the fact of the matter is that brain fog is a real, quantifiable experience, and it can be indicative of other underlying issues your body is coping with.
While the connection between brain fog, inflammation, and long COVID might seem confusing, understanding them better will actually make them easier to notice, diagnose, and treat.
Brain fog is not a medical condition, but a symptom of other medical conditions. This type of cognitive dysfunction can present as:
In more severe cases of brain fog, you might even have headaches, problems with your vision, or nausea.
Since brain fog symptoms are so diverse and subjective, medical diagnoses are particularly difficult to make. The symptoms of brain fog can easily be attributed to seasonal allergies, trouble sleeping, stress, and even over-exposure to blue light from all of our various electronic devices.
Another reason why brain fog is difficult to diagnose is that it can be caused by so many factors, like nutrient deficiency, sleep disorders, bacterial overgrowth from overconsumption of sugar, depression, or even thyroid conditions. Other common brain fog causes include eating too much and too often, inactivity, not getting enough sleep, chronic stress, and a poor diet.
If this list of causes looks familiar, it’s because they can also contribute to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is a long-term condition typically caused by underlying issues like autoimmune disorders, exposure to toxins like pollution, and acute inflammation from untreated viruses or injuries. It can exist throughout the body, and its symptoms range from fever and skin rashes to joint and chest pain. It can also disrupt the normal processes of your gut by stunting serotonin development. The lack of this mood-booster hormone can make you feel depressed, which can lead to sluggishness and trouble thinking clearly—also known as brain fog.
That’s right: Inflammation is directly related to brain fog. Because our bodies are a tangled web of “cause and effect,” it can take a comprehensive wellness exam to track down the root cause of chronic inflammation, and therefore brain fog. But what if that root cause was actually a virus all along?
Long COVID is described as being a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health issues after experiencing COVID-19. It is definitely a medical gray area, as many studies are still ongoing, but there are a few things the CDC has been able to pin down:
Brain fog is one of the most talked-about symptoms of long COVID, and it’s clear that any lingering inflammation from the illness could be causing it. After all, COVID, like any illness, will trigger your immune system to activate a protective response. However, if you weren’t aware of inflammation symptoms before COVID, you’ll need to determine whether or not they’re related in terms of your own health.
Of course, you know your body best. If your brain fog symptoms persist despite the steps you’ve taken, Parsley Health can help. Our holistic approach to medicine will not only help us discover the root cause of your inflammation—it allows our expert doctors to create a personalized health plan to address it and the brain fog it may be causing.
Learn more about how we’ve helped members like you diagnose and treat their brain fog here .
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.