Brain Fog: A Heart Attack Side Effect – Brain fog can be caused by many many different medical conditions, mine was due to my heart attack a couple of years ago. Brain fog is much more debilitating than most people realise. When brain fog strikes, a person can have trouble remembering things and processing information. They might also find it difficult to concentrate and pay attention, or that their thoughts are disorganised. This describes my brain fog down to a tee!
What is Brain Fog?
According to Healthline.com they say:
“Brain fog isn’t a medical condition itself, but rather a symptom of other medical conditions. It’s a type of cognitive dysfunction involving:
- Memory problems
- Lack of mental clarity
- Poor concentration
- Inability to focus
Some people also describe it as mental fatigue. Depending on the severity of brain fog, it can interfere with work or school. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in your life”.
For me, brain fog affects me in many different ways. I have days where amazing words just fly out of my mouth, like today, when discussing this blog with hubby I was explaining how some days I can’t remember the name of the “item” pen, or simple everyday words and the next, I can come out with words like I’m some sort of professor! (Beleive it or not, I was going to use the words I used while talking with hubby but because I took a break for 5 mins, I’ve no recollection of what the word was, that I used)…..Extremely frustrating!
I think what frustrates me the most is when I get interrupted for whatever reason, and my train of thought is completely destroyed. I really do have to sit and seriously think as to what I was previously thinking of and try and get my thinking process back on track. (That’s why it seems to take me forever to get a blog finished), I live in a madhouse with two kids (albeit practically grown-up) a husband who thinks he’s a child and a 2-year old Beagle dog. When on earth do I get time to myself to just write?
What Are The Causes of Brain Fog?
Websites that talk of brain fog mention the following as causes for brain fog:
- Lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes
- Medical conditions
The full description can be found on Healthline.com
I know for me personally, lack of sleep is my worst nightmare (pardon the pun). If I haven’t got enough sleep, my brain fog is at an all-time high and this doubled with me being grumpy due to lack of sleep, is not a good combination. My family have come to realise the best thing to do is give me a wide berth.
There are days I wake up more tired than I was before going to bed. My head feels like it’s filled with cotton wool and trying to take in conversations or simple instructions can seem like I’m trying to learn quantum physics. I get so frustrated and even angry at myself on these days as I used to be so good at both of these and more.
Having a physical disability, words became my friend so to speak. Always a smart, funny answer to most things. I felt I was pretty good at tackling most things (written form). The flip side from this though is since my heart attack, my tolerance level for BS has become practically 0…..So, when I need to write important letters for whatever reason, I seem to be able to get straight to the point, no waffling as I used to do. Strange!
Stress and being a smoker is what caused the onset of my heart attack. I was fighting two companies at the time, one (my housing association re my through floor lift), the other, an insurance claim due to a relatives caravan catching fire. Not a great time!
Stress is a nasty entity and is very much underrated as the cause of a lot of medical issues. The trouble is, how do you combat stress? Unless you lock yourself away from the world, it is near impossible but that is for another blog (maybe).
How Is Brain Fog Diagnosed?
See your doctor if you have persistent lack of clarity that worsens or doesn’t improve. A single test can’t diagnose brain fog. Brain fog may signal an underlying issue, so your doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask about your:
- Mental health
- Level of physical activity
- Current medications or supplements
You should let your doctor know about other symptoms you might have. For example, someone with hypothyroidism may have brain fog along with hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, or brittle nails.
Blood work can help your doctor identify the cause of brain fog. A blood test can detect the following:
- Abnormal glucose levels
- Poor liver, kidney, and thyroid function
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Inflammatory diseases
Based on the results, your doctor will determine whether to investigate further. Other diagnostic tools may include imaging tests to look inside the body, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. The doctor may also conduct allergy testing or a sleep study to check for a sleep disorder.
Keeping a food journal can help you determine if your diet contributes to brain fog.
While in hospital recovering from my HA I was told I could now suffer from brain fog (as this is a side effect) and it may be permanent or it may not……That was it! No follow up or proper diagnosis.
I have been to my GP regarding my symptoms but I’m just made feel that I’m blowing it all out of proportion or it’s just all in my head. So I have given up now.
How To Treat It
Brain fog treatment depends on the cause.
For example, if you’re anaemic, iron supplements may increase your production of red blood cells and reduce your brain fog. If you’re diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid or other medication to reduce inflammation or suppress the immune system.
Sometimes, relieving brain fog is a matter of correcting a nutritional deficiency, switching medications, or improving the quality of your sleep.
Home remedies to improve brain fog include:
- Sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night
- Managing stress by knowing your limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine
- Strengthening your brainpower (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles)
- Finding enjoyable activities
- Increasing your intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats
Hmmm, not sure I agree with a lot of these.
Sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night – I do, do this and still feel as tired as I did going to bed, some days more so.
Managing stress by knowing your limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine – Seriously, how can one do this, life is full of stresses, especially someone with a disability. This gives a whole new level of stresses!
Exercising – Hmm, as a wheelchair user with weak arms, hands and legs, not an easy task by any means. Hubby got the Oculus Quest VR headset recently, I played Beat Saber for 3 songs and I couldn’t use my arms for 2 days after. Seriously, my arms felt lead weights and I couldn’t raise my arms to drink or eat. I have the same issue if I type for too long, my arms become tired and weak!
Strengthening your brainpower (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles) – I build websites, I blog, I volunteer, I play scrabble, chess and I’m learning how to do 3D modelling. I think I’m taxing my brain quite enough thanks. Does it help? I really don’t know, I would need to cease doing all of these for a few months to know for certain. Sorry, not prepared to do that.
Finding enjoyable activities – Think I just covered that 🙂
Increasing your intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats – Trying to improve since my HA.
Source of information: Healthline.com
Like most illness, I have good days and I have bad days. The good days are still bad days as I am never free of my brain fog. I suffer from it on a daily basis. Just the severity is different from day-to-day. My real bad days, I don’t speak to a sole as I am terrified I will make a big mistake, or sign up to something I shouldn’t have, or generally make bad decisions. If I do need to make a decision about something, I run it all past my hubby first. This terrifies me as I was always someone with good common-sense and a sensible head on my shoulders. (I feel like I can’t trust my own judgement).
If I get a phone call on a bad day, well actually, any day, I put it on loudspeaker so hubby can hear it too, this way, if I forget something important, hopefully, he can help me. I’m often making notes on a phone call to help with this.
After my HA, I felt very badly let down by the medical profession as a whole. My GP always seemed to make me feel I was burdening them with trivial stuff and why was I wasting their time. I suffered (and probably still do) with depression and my anxiety has worsened to no end. My GP just handed me some leaflets and basically told to get on with it.
The other problem is that this is a hidden disability and believe me, disability it is! (No-one knows you have brain fog unless you tell them). It is difficult when out and about and you’re trying to remember what you went into a shop for, or you can’t remember where you put your bank card or loyalty card when at the till. It can be rather embarrassing to say the least.
My best mate suffers from brain fog too. We both end up giggling over the words we fail to remember or stop mid-sentence cos we can’t remember what we were going to say. It’s nice I can feel comfortable with someone who fully understands my daily struggles.