Since the early month of the COVID-19 pandemic, some individuals have developed “long COVID,” a lasting set of symptoms after their initial infection. Among those symptoms, a common one is brain fog. This can happen to people who have long COVID disease, which generally happens after a severe illness during their COVID-19 infection, or long COVID syndrome, which can happen without comorbidities, or even any symptom during the original infection.
Although brain fog is not an actual health condition, many people use this expression to describe a category of symptoms that affect their cognitive abilities. Long COVID brain fog can either cause brand new symptoms to appear or aggravate any pre-existing cognitive symptoms you may have.
What Happens When You Experience Brain Fog?
Common symptoms of long COVID brain fog include:
- Difficulty focusing or making decisions
- Memory issues
- Mental exhaustion
- Exacerbated mental issues like depression or anxiety
Although clinical studies have not established an exact cause, some researchers theorize that inflammation may explain long COVID brain fog.
How Long Does Long COVID Brain Fog Last?
Clinical research on long COVID, including its associated brain fog, is still in its early stages due to the newness of the COVID-19 virus. However, studies have so far shown that a significant number of people experiencing long COVID dealt with cognitive issues in the first few months following their initial infection.
It is common for symptoms to linger for over six months or even a year, although you can often expect your COVID-19-induced brain fog to gradually alleviate over time.
Treatment Options for Long COVID Brain Fog
If you experience brain fog and other long COVID symptoms such as chronic fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, sleep disturbances, or labored breathing, you should speak with your primary care doctor. They can evaluate your symptoms and medical history. If necessary, they can order medical imaging or lab tests.
When it comes to long COVID brain fog treatment, your physician may recommend specific habits to implement or refer you to a therapist to get further medical assistance. Your doctor or your therapist may recommend performing cognitively engaging activities on a regular basis like sudoku or crossword puzzles.
Lifestyle Habits to Alleviate Long COVID Brain Fog
Although brain fog can be frustrating and may take time to dissipate, you can implement various habits to help you manage it.
Lifestyle habits that can help you alleviate brain fog include:
- Taking regular breaks and pacing yourself to avoid overstimulation and exhaustion
- Creating daily routines and setting precise and attainable goals
- Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated
- Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
- Working out for its physical and mental health benefits
- Implementing a bedtime routine to improve the quality of your sleep
- Reducing your stress levels with mindfulness activities like breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga
If you are unsure where to start or how to create and sustain a specific habit, you should bring it up with your primary care physician for personalized advice.
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