Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
July 17, 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on:

Are you struggling with brain fog since being diagnosed with Covid-19? If so, you’re not alone.

Many people are experiencing mental fog and other cognitive problems during this pandemic, even after they have healed from getting infected.

In this article, we’ll discuss six strategies for improving your brain health and reducing brain fog Covid 19.

We’ll also provide links to additional resources so that you can learn more about cognitive health and how to protect your brain from the effects of Covid-19.

Let’s get started.

What is Covid-19 brain fog?

Covid brain fog is a symptom of the Covid-19 virus. It’s characterized by difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and mental fatigue.

People with brain fog Covid-19 often feel like they’re in a mental haze and have trouble thinking clearly. They may also have trouble with short-term memory, struggle to find the right words when speaking, and have difficulty multitasking.

Causes

The exact cause of brain fog from Covid-19 is unknown. However, it’s believed to be a result of the virus itself and the body’s immune response to the initial infection.

Research also suggests that brain fog after Covid-19 could be caused by brain inflammation that is a lot similar to the cognitive impairment that is often brought by chemotherapy (i.e., chemo brain).

The inflammation could become severe and it often damages the brain cells, causing cognitive impairment, including mental fog.

Another study suggests that the cognitive problems experienced by people who have been infected with Covid-19 are due to the anomaly in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid.

Cerebrospinal fluid is the tissue that flows in and around the hollow spaces of the brain and spinal cord, protecting them from direct injury and supplying essential nutrients.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing brain fog from Covid-19, including:

  • Having a severe case of Covid-19
  • Being hospitalized with Covid-19 or admitted to the intensive care unit
  • Being older in age
  • Having underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.

If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to be extra vigilant about brain health and seek medical help if you experience any cognitive impairment.

Symptoms

In addition to a foggy brain, people with Covid-19 brain fog may also experience other cognitive symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low mood
  • Irritability
  • Problems with executive function
  • Struggles with decision-making
  • Difficulty problem-solving
  • Trouble thinking clearly

If you’re experiencing any of these neurologic symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help.

What is post-Covid or “long Covid”?

Long Covid, also known as post-acute sequelae or post-Covid, is a term used to describe the symptoms that persist for weeks or even months after a person has been infected with Covid-19.

People who develop long Covid often experience brain fog, as well as other symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle pain, and anxiety.

If you’re struggling with brain fog symptoms of long Covid, it’s important to seek medical help and find ways to manage your symptoms.

Let’s take a look at some of the coping strategies you can implement that are proven to work to combat Covid brain fog and improve your overall brain function, according to studies.

Brain Fog Covid 19: Steps You Can Take to Enhance Cognitive Function

There are a few things you can do to help reduce brain fog from Covid-19 and improve cognitive performance.

Here are six science-backed strategies:

1) Sleep well and get enough rest

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for executive function. In fact, studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive decline and memory problems.

Recent research also shows that getting enough quality sleep has helped people reduce the cognitive symptoms of Covid-19 brain fog and improved their brain function, thanks to melatonin.

If you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, there are a few things you can do to improve your sleep quality, such as:

  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Refraining from eating three to four hours before bed
  • Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Exercising during the day
  • Avoiding screen time before bed

Getting enough sleep is crucial for brain fog relief, so be sure to prioritize it.

2) Get aerobic exercise regularly

Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it’s also great for cognitive health, especially when it comes to fighting brain fog.

In fact, research shows that aerobic exercise can help improve your respiratory system and brain function, and reduce the risk of cognitive deterioration.

Studies also suggest that aerobic exercise can help reduce brain fog symptoms and other cognitive impairments associated with Covid-19.

So, if you’re looking for ways to improve brain function and reduce brain fog, be sure to get aerobic exercise regularly.

Some great aerobic exercises to try include:

  • walking
  • running
  • swimming
  • biking
  • dancing
  • jumping rope.

You can also try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts, which have been shown to be especially beneficial for your mental health.

Just make sure to consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have underlying health conditions.

Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as you become more comfortable.

Most importantly, find an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick with long-term.

3) Eat a brain-friendly diet

What you eat has a direct impact on your cognitive health. In fact, studies show that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help improve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent research also supports that eating nutritious food can help ease Covid brain fog faster and improve brain function a lot better.

So, if you’re struggling with brain fog, make sure to eat a brain-friendly diet that’s rich in nutrients like:

  • omega-3s
  • vitamin B complex
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • antioxidants
  • flavonoids
  • zinc.

Some great brain-healthy foods to include in your diet are: 

  • oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • nuts and seeds
  • dark leafy greens
  • berries
  • whole grains
  • beans and legumes
  • eggs
  • yogurt.

In addition to eating brain-healthy foods, be sure to avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive alcohol intake, as these can affect cognition and contribute to brain fog, and aggravate other symptoms of long Covid or post-Covid conditions.

Eating a nutritious diet is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, so make sure to make it a priority.

If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources and meal plans available online to help you get started.

Additionally, you may want to consider working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist who can help you create a brain-friendly diet plan that’s tailored to your individual needs.

4) Rehydrate well

Studies show that dehydration can cause brain fog, while rehydration can help improve cognitive performance almost instantaneously.

Another study reveals that dehydration can easily affect the brain function and physical function of people who are infected by Covid-19 and even those who have healed from the virus disrupted system.

So, it’s important to make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, especially if you’re trying to reduce the symptoms of brain fog.

The recommended daily intake of water is eight glasses per day, but you may need more if you’re active or live in a hot climate.

You can also try adding electrolytes to your water to help prevent dehydration and brain fog.

Some great electrolyte-rich drinks to try are:

  • coconut water
  • sports drinks
  • bone broth
  • vegetable juices.

In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, you may also want to limit your intake of diuretics like too much caffeine and alcohol, as these can contribute to dehydration and aggravate Covid brain fog.

If you’re struggling to drink enough water throughout the day, there are plenty of apps and gadgets that can help you stay on track.

You can also try carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go so that you always have access to water when you need it.

Making hydration a priority is essential for cognitive health, so make sure to drink up.

5) Reduce your stress levels

Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your brain function and can escalate to brain fog.

In fact, one study from Harvard Medical School found that people who reported higher levels of stress were more likely to experience brain fog after recovering from Covid-19.

So, if you’re struggling with Covid brain fog, it’s important to find ways to reduce your stress levels.

There are many different ways to do this, but some great options include:

  • exercise
  • meditation
  • deep breathing
  • yoga
  • tai chi
  • journaling
  • full body massage
  • spending time with loved ones
  • going out in nature
  • doing a hobby you love.

Additionally, you may want to consider talking to a therapist or counselor who can help you manage your stress in a more holistic way.

Reducing stress is essential for cognitive function, so make sure to find ways to de-stress on a regular basis.

6) Play brain-training games

Playing brain-training games is a great way to improve your cognitive function and reduce brain fog.

One study found that people who played brain-training games for eight weeks had significant improvements in their attention, processing speed, and working memory.

Another study showed that brain-training games could help improve the lingering symptoms of brain fog in people who have long Covid-19.

So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your brain function and reduce brain fog, consider playing brain-training games regularly.

There are many different brain-training games available offline, online, and on mobile devices.

Some great options to try include:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Scrabble
  • Chess
  • Puzzles
  • Lumosity
  • Elevate
  • Peak
  • Fit Brains Trainer
  • Cognifit
  • Brain Age Test.

Playing brain-training games is a fun and effective way to improve your cognitive health, so give it a try.

Concluding Thoughts

Brain fog is a common symptom of Covid-19 that can impact your cognitive function, which can become quite frustrating and debilitating.

Dealing with a foggy brain for weeks and even months on end is such an overwhelming feat, especially if it impacts your daily tasks and activities.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reduce brain fog and improve your brain function even after being infected by the Covid-19 virus.

Implementing the strategies we discussed above can help you ease Covid brain fog and improve your overall cognitive health. So, don’t wait; start today.

If you want to learn more about Covid-19 brain fog treatment options, we have plenty of helpful resources on our blog

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