How to Think Clearly Again: Natural Ways to Get Rid of Brain Fog

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Ever feel cloudy up there — like your thinking is a little sluggish, words are hard to find or your brain just ran a mental marathon? This is known as brain fog, and while it’s not a medical diagnosis by itself, it’s a relatable experience for many people. Hannah Stein, MD, UnityPoint Health, explains what this mental haze feels like, why it happens and how to clear it for better clarity.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is when your memory or concentration is impaired, and it can be caused by a lot of different conditions.

What are Symptoms of Brain Fog?

Like its name suggests, brain fog feels like your brain is foggy. The feelings associated with brain fog vary in their severity, and everyone experiences it differently. However, brain fog symptoms are commonly described as:

  • Feeling fatigued
  • Feeling disoriented
  • Feeling mentally exhausted
  • Feeling spaced out or detached
  • Forgetfulness
  • Thoughts that aren’t as sharp or clear
  • Thoughts that are slow or difficult to process
  • Trouble focusing on tasks
  • Trouble recalling information

Is There a Brain Fog Test?

Dr. Stein says there’s no singular test for brain fog as it can be caused by a variety of things, but if you’re worried about your memory or concentration, your doctor has a test for that.

“The most common test for these symptoms is the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which is just a little test your doctor can do in the clinic to see how your memory and concentration are working,” Dr. Stein says.

What Causes Brain Fog?

Between lifestyle factors, medication side effects and medical conditions, Dr. Stein says brain fog can be a symptom of many things that result in cognitive impairment. Here are the most common brain fog causes:

Dr. Stein says if brain fog is taking a toll on your daily activities, talk to your doctor. “We can’t just assume it’s one of the more common causes. It could be something else masquerading, like an underlying health condition,” she says.

How Do You Get Rid of Brain Fog?

While getting rid of brain fog depends on what’s causing it, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help clear your head. Dr. Stein says getting the right nutrients through a healthy diet, prioritizing sleep and exercising to sharpen concentration are three things to start with.

Other ideas to lessen the impact of brain fog include:

  • Practicing stress management techniques, like yoga, deep breathing or meditation
  • Drinking caffeine in moderation
  • Scheduling breaks in your day to avoid mental fatigue
  • Minimizing distractions and keeping a clutter free space
  • Stimulating your brain with puzzles or reading

It’s not always possible to clear brain fog instantly, but these suggestions can help. If your brain fog is due to an underlying health condition, talk to your doctor about what can help minimize the effect of it. “For instance, if your brain fog is due to menopause, and you’re having other symptoms like hot flashes, ask your healthcare provider about hormone therapy,” Dr. Stein says.

Vitamins and Supplements for Brain Fog

Before buying vitamins and supplements to treat your brain fog, Dr. Stein says the best thing to do is a blood test.

“A lot of blood tests can help us determine the cause of your brain fog. If it’s due to a vitamin deficiency, your doctor can help you identify a supplement that’ll help,” she says. “But generally, taking supplements without knowing if a deficiency is the cause doesn’t have a lot of evidence to back up effectiveness.”

When to Go to the Doctor for Brain Fog

“Everyone experiences concentration problems at some point. We all have a lot going on in our worlds. If you feel like your concentration or memory problems are getting in the way of your life, definitely talk to your doctor about what could be causing it,” Dr Stein advises.

Brain Fog Infographic

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