Symptoms of Brain Fog
Typical symptoms/ Presentation
- A lack of mental clarity, or a lingering mental fog;
- Feeling fuzzy, sluggish and ‘out of it’;
- Poor short term memory;
- Feeling distracted with reduced attention, concentration and focus;
- Slow processing of information (written and verbal);
- Difficulty reading, writing and understanding information;
- Difficulty making decisions;
- Difficulty problem solving or multi-tasking;
- Difficulty making plans;
- Difficulties with word-finding or finding the correct word to use;
- Difficulty selecting the right topic and not making sense during conversations; and
- Feeling overwhelmed by simple tasks and having difficulty with routine situations.
How long will it last?
27%, or around one third, of those reporting Post-Covid ‘Brain Fog’ will experience a period of prolonged cognitive difficulty (Windsor, 2021), however, at present, there is no evidence to suggest that it is permanent.
Brain fog symptoms usually improve with time; particularly following lifestyle management advice; adopting healthy habits for recovery; and returning to a more normal lifestyle.
In a study of patients in Germany there was no evidence to indicate direct brain damage, or permanence, following infection with Covid-19 (Matschke et al, 2021). Any permanent long term effects usually stem from more critical illness – prolonged hospitalisation, multiple organ damage or intubation (1/3 of these patients recover fully) (Jaywant et al, 2021).
The brain can, however, take a long time to heal and the sooner management and rehabilitation begin, the better the outcome is likely to be.
Post-Covid related ‘Brain Fog’ symptoms should improve with:
- Management advice and strategies
- Adoption of healthy lifestyle habits
- Return to normal lifestyle and routine
Which cognitive processes can be affected by Brain Fog?
- Attention – selective concentration;
- Memory – recall of facts, procedures, and past & future events;
- Perception – interpretation of sensory information;
- Insight & judgment – understanding one’s own limitations & what they mean;
- Organisation – arranging ideas in a useful order;
- Orientation – knowing where, when, & who you are, as well as why you’re there;
- Language – words for communication;
- Processing speed – quick thinking & understanding;
- Problem-solving – finding solutions to obstacles;
- Reasoning – logically thinking through situations;
- Executive functioning – making a plan, acting it out, evaluating success, & adjusting;
- Metacognition – thinking about how you think.
A problem with one or more cognitive functions can cause difficulty performing activities of daily living safely and efficiently, as well as being able to communicate effectively.