Brain Fog

Overview: Brain fog, sometimes referred to as fuzzy thinking, is a momentary lapse in mental acuity and alertness.



Everyone has moments when we aren't thinking, or aren't thinking clearly. Sometimes we're just distracted or tired. However, sometimes we have a lot of those moments, and don't seem to be able to focus the way we need to. That is often called brain fog.


What causes brain fog?

Brain fog is a symptom, not a medical condition. There are a number of things that can cause brain fog. Poor sleep is a common one. People with sleep apnea, for example, often have trouble focusing. Some medications can cause brain fog. Brain fog can be caused by fatigue, but can also cause fatigue. Other causes include underactive thyroid gland, anxiety or depression, and low vitamin B12. Problems with blood pressure - either too high or too low - can also cause brain fog. So can dehydration. Of course some serious neurological conditions can cause brain fog, but more often the cause is one of those already listed. 

For HCM patients, other causes may include any of the causes of fatigue. Heart failure, obstruction, and arrhythmias can potentially all cause you to feel fatigued and make it hard for you to focus.

There is one other sort of problem that may sometimes be called brain fog. After heart surgery, some patients have some difficulty focusing and thinking. The causes of this aren't completely clear, but it does seem that the problem tends to go away over time. 



If brain fog interferes with your daily activities, you should talk to your doctor and tell them about any other symptoms that you may have. You might have to have blood tests done to check vitamin and hormone levels. Treatment for this symptom depends on the cause. If it is due to lack of sleep, getting more sleep should be able to help without the use of medications. Treating the underlying cause should sharpen thinking. If it does not, you may be referred to a neurologist for other tests. Lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, exercising more, and getting adequate sleep have also been shown to improve brain fog.


HCMA 6/2021

Giant cell arteritis: elderly woman suffering from acute headache.