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Yes, Covid-19 plagues the brain - it’s called brain fog

By Aleena Kuriakose



Highlights

  • Brain fog is a symptom of other medical conditions such as nutrient deficiency, sleep disorder, and depression.

  • When an individual experiences brain fog, he/she can feel confused and the ability to think is undermined.

  • Covid-19 has resulted in neurological problems that cause changes in cognitive function, commonly known as brain fog.

  • If you experience brain fog, there are many ways to help reduce it and clear your mind.

It’s five in the morning and the Sun is barely up so darkness shrouds the sky. You’re behind the wheel on your one hour commute to work, struggling to keep awake while slugging coffee down your throat. Ah, yes, the typical, loathsome Monday mornings. Or, was it Tuesday? You’re not really sure. Suddenly, you get a call from your boss and you arch your eyebrows in confusion as you try to understand what he’s saying. You make out a few words here and there, but mental exhaustion overwhelms you. In the end, you just mutter a few incomprehensible words and hang up.


We’ve all had rough days where everything is hazy in our mind. But imagine drowning in the same drowsy feeling of brain fog for weeks, or even months? Well, with the current pandemic, many young people had reported experiencing brain fog after testing positive for Covid, and it lasted well after recovery.


Ria Chopra, a young woman who experienced Covid-19 brain fog, described her irksome situation: “During my second week with COVID, I found myself searching the refrigerator for detergent. I have absolutely no way to explain why, and how, my brain thought that the detergent would be amongst all the fruit and milk, but there I was, absolutely convinced that the fridge was the correct place to look...When things kept going downhill, though, my sister and I realized that something was very wrong. We would lose track of conversations while we were having them - imagine being in the middle of a sentence and forgetting how you began! We would order food and forget we’d done that, we’d put things on the stove and forget to turn the gas on.”


Ria is just one of the many people who had experienced the disorienting effects of Covid-19 brain fog. Generally speaking, an individual with brain fog is characterized as being less mentally sharp than usual, where thoughts and emotions may feel numb and daily routines seem to require extra effort. Similar to what happened to Ria, brain fog may appear as a “foggy haze” that clouds your mind, making it difficult to access thoughts and reason properly, leading to confusion and irregular behavior. Some examples include forgetting a task to complete, taking extra time than usual to complete tasks, being distracted frequently, and feeling exhausted when working.


Now, a question remains: what does Covid-19 have to do with brain fog? Studies have shown that Covid-19 does indeed affect the brain, and sometimes it can be devastating such as resulting in encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), strokes, and a lack of oxygen to the brain. The virus can also have long-term consequences on other organs thus producing effects such as fatigue, body aches, inability to exercise, headache, and sleeping difficulties. In addition, damage to any organs such as the heart, lungs, or kidneys can result in impaired thinking and brain fog.

If you experience brain fog, there are a multitude of practices that you can adopt to help reduce it:

  • Aerobic exercise: It is recommended that you exercise for at least half an hour, five days a week.

  • Maintain a healthy diet: A diet consisting of olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans, and whole grains have demonstrated improved thinking, memory, and health.

  • Avoid adverse substances: It’s best to stay away from alcohol and drugs, given that you want the brain to heal.

  • Sleep well: Sleep nourishes the brain and clears out all the toxins. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep and rest.

  • Engage in social activities: Human beings are social animals and thus social activities not only benefit our moods but enhance our thinking and memory as well.

  • Perform stimulating activities: Participating in cognitively stimulating activities such as reading books, listening to music, and keeping a positive mindset are all ways that benefit our mind.

Therefore, while brain fog may be an unpleasant situation, take delight in the fact that it will often be temporary, especially when you practice the above methods.


References


Budson, A. E. (2021, March 8). What is COVID-19 brain fog - and how can you clear it? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-covid-19-brain-fog-and-how-can-you-clear-it-2021030822076.

Chopra, R. (2021, May 27). My COVID Story: My COVID brain fog was so bad that I was searching for detergent in my refrigerator. The Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/my-covid-story-my-covid-brain-fog-was-so-bad-that-i-was-searching-for-detergent-in-my-refrigerator/articleshow/83002741.cms.


Villines, Z. (2021, April 20). Anxiety and brain fog: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-and-brain-fog#:~:text=With%20brain%20fog%2C%20a%20person,their%20thoughts%20or%20plan%20ahead.


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