According to Dr. Joanna Helmuth, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, various blood tests can help pinpoint causes of cognitive impairment, such as sleep apnea, vitamin B deficiency, or other hormone and thyroid issues. But because brain fog can manifest in so many different ways and has so many different causes, diagnosis is limited, she added.

Sometimes brain fog can be difficult to diagnose because it is caused by a variety of factors, even in a patient with a major condition. For example, people with Lupus or Multiple Sclerosis may experience cognitive impairment due to direct damage to brain cells – but they may not be getting enough sleep, extreme fatigue or medications that contribute to brain fog.

Unlike lupus and multiple sclerosis, direct damage to brain cells is much more common Rarely in covid-19. But some patients’ brains show dysregulation in their endothelial cells, which line blood vessels in the brain. This can lead to an increased blood-brain barrier that allows harmful substances to pass into the brain and alter cognitive function, says Dr. Helmuth.

Researchers are finding that inflammation is a more common cause of brain fog in Covid patients, as well as people infected with other viruses such as HIV and Ebola, and even those receiving chemotherapy for cancer. – Activities that can damage cells – in the brain and body. Studies have shown that post-Covid-19 patients have a higher rate of persistent cognitive impairment. Signs of inflammation in their blood and cerebrospinal fluid. “Now we’re seeing a new virus causing the same problem,” said Dr. Avindra Nath, clinical director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Although doctors can’t find a physical cause for your brain fog, there are steps you can take to control it, says Dr. Helmuth. Start with short-term coping strategies to manage daily tasks. Write notes and set alarms so you don’t miss appointments. Take regular breaks during long projects to stay focused and better able to complete tasks. You can try keeping track of your daily activities using an app or a diary on your phone to see how energetic and clear-headed you feel throughout the day. Then reserve this time to do more difficult or complex tasks.

Your healthcare provider may suggest lifestyle changes to improve your overall health and energy. “We try to encourage cardiovascular activities, good nutrition, sleep and social activities that are known to be good for the brain,” said Dr. Helmuth.

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