Brain Fog: Ways It Appears in Fibromyalgia & How to Clear It

by Krissy Ward

     Although Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain illness, pain is not the only symptom that affects us. Many of us Fibro Warriors deal with Brain Fog. 

What is Brain Fog?

  • Mental confusion and lack of concentration.
  • Difficulty recalling words or names, the use of incorrect words, trouble holding conversations, understanding conversations, and expressing thoughts.
  • Occasional Disorientation: Not knowing where you are going or where you are, not recognizing your surroundings, impaired sense of direction
  • Struggles with cognitive function.
  • Trouble Concentrating: Easily distracted, trouble processing information, inability to pay attention to more than one thing at a time, unable to complete a task.
  • Problems communicating, like following what someone is saying or finding words to express something.
  • Short-term Memory Problems: Forgetfulness, difficulty remembering where you put things or remembering plans, forgetting what you are doing, unable to recall what was heard or read.
  • Trouble With Numbers: Difficulty performing simple math, transposing numbers, trouble remembering numbers.

     One of my many embarrassing moments dealing with Brain Fog was while I was trying to take notes for a class and I stopped writing because I could not remember how to spell a certain word. The word wasn't even a difficult word. What was the word, you might ask... I'm almost too ashamed to tell YOU guys and you all are my family. The word... the word was "of". I stared at my paper for more than two minutes trying to figure out how to spell "of". I finally just asked someone and even when they told me how to spell it, I looked at my paper again because "of" just did not look right. No way this word could have been spelled with a simple "o" and "f". There are many embarrassing moments. I have many moments of Brain fog getting the best of me. I have lived in my town all of my life and I still have to use my GPS, because I sometimes forget. I hate it. But, I just have to laugh at it. If I don't make light and find all of these things humorous, I would go INSANE.

 What causes Brain Fog?

Some factors that can contribute to brain fog are:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Sleep Disorders 
  • Depression
  • Medications

Brain fog is usually worse when the pain and fatigue are worse. It can also be exacerbated when you are anxious or dealing with sensory overload.

Clearing Brain Fog

  • Improve The Quality of Your Sleep. Getting adequate amount of sleep a night is key. Try adding natural remedies at bedtime such as melatonin or magnesium. These are less likely to cause brain fog.
  • Vitamin supplements. A daily intake of ribose can increase your energy and also improve your mental clarity.
  • Follow A Routine. Establish a daily routine for simple tasks. Doing things in a predictable manner can help reduce brain fog.
  • Rest. Respect your body’s need for rest. Overactivity (physical or mental) can worsen cognitive functions. Frequent rest breaks can actually help prevent brain fog and other flare-ups associated with fibromyalgia.
  • Stay hydrated. Getting fresh air and sunshine can also help.
  • Avoid Over Stimulation. Find ways to limit your sensory input. 
  • Stay Organized. Find a system that helps you stay on top of things. Create daily to-do lists. Use a planner to keep track of appointments. Use a weekly pill-box to keep track of medications.
  • Try avoiding energy drinks with lots of loaded with caffeine and sugar. They will make you crash later. 
  • Play Games. Puzzles, brain teasers and even some video games can help improve critical thinking skills and improve memory.
  • Write it down. Always make notes, whether they are post it notes or an app on your phone. Write it down.

Find what works for you, but any activity that you enjoy and that gets your heart pumping can help clear brain fog. Please talk with your doctor before you add any over-the-counter or herbal supplements to your diet to make sure they won't cause further problems or interact negatively with other medications you may already by taking.