The CDC recently shared that summer 2022 survey results estimate that about 15 percent of people who had COVID-19 struggle with long COVID symptoms after recovering from their initial infection. One of the most common symptoms of long COVID is brain fog and cognitive impairments. Brain fog is an umbrella term that does not necessarily do justice to the negative consequences it has on someone’s everyday life and even their ability to perform job duties.
While studies on long COVID are still in their infancy due to the newness of the condition, early observations and results show that individuals with long COVID have a greater risk of experiencing neurological conditions, including brain fog, even two years after contracting COVID-19.
If you have not received COVID-19 vaccinations and/or boosters, you should get them as this is the most effective way to prevent long COVID and minimize symptoms such as brain fog.
Common Symptoms of Long COVID Brain Fog
Brain fog can involve a wide range of symptoms with varying severity, including:
- Decision-making and planning challenges
- Inability to sustain concentration
- Memory difficulties
- Reduced attention span
- Reduction or loss of executive functions like multitasking
- Sluggish and disorganized thoughts
Brain fog can negatively affect someone’s daily tasks such as chores, professional assignments, studying for classes, caring for loved ones, or having a normal conversation. Other long COVID symptoms like chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, or depression can aggravate brain fog.
Risk Factors for Long COVID Brain Fog
According to the CDC, certain groups are more likely to develop long COVID symptoms, including brain fog. A COVID-19 infection that involved severe symptoms and required hospitalization or if you had preexisting medical conditions, including autoimmune ones, are risk common risk factors for long COVID.
If your COVID-19 infection only resulted in mild symptoms without hospitalization, you may be at a higher risk for developing long COVID if you are a woman, belong to an ethnic minority group, or have underlying medical conditions and other comorbidities such as obesity.
Regardless of the extent of your symptoms during your COVID-19 infection, a major risk factor for developing long COVID, including brain fog, is being unvaccinated against the virus.
Lifestyle Habits to Manage and Improve Brain Fog
Implementing certain lifestyle habits can alleviate some of the brain fog. Getting restful sleep every night plays a central role and having a consistent bedtime routine can help. This may require avoiding snacking or spending time on screens too close to bedtime and incorporating mindful practices such as meditation or journaling to help you wind down.
Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated can also reduce some of the symptoms associated with brain fog. If you are unsure where to start, you can speak with your doctor or a nutritionist, especially if you have certain dietary restrictions. Reducing your alcohol consumption or eliminating it from your drink options can have a positive effect too.
Engaging in regular physical activity if this does not aggravate other symptoms or medical conditions can also support your mental health and cognitive abilities.
Focusing on social activities can also help you stay engaged in your life and improve your emotional health, which in turn can support your cognitive abilities. Building and nurturing connections with other people offer various benefits for your brain health.
Managing your stress levels can reduce brain fog and associated feelings of overwhelm. Using mindfulness techniques or combing the aforementioned habits can improve your mental abilities.
Should I See a Doctor for My Brain Fog?
If you experience long COVID brain fog, you should speak with your primary care physician. Following an initial evaluation, your doctor may recommend that you participate in a neuropsychological assessment to get a more detailed understanding of your cognitive challenges.
Your physician may also ask for blood work to check for certain vitamin levels and address any deficiencies. They may recommend diet changes and cognitive therapy to treat your specific concerns. Treatment tailored to your unique situation can help reduce and/or manage your brain fog symptoms.
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