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

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

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

Do you ever feel like your diabetes is fogging up your brain? You’re not alone. Diabetes and brain fog are two of the most common complaints from people who live with diabetes.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of diabetes brain fog, the symptoms, and some remedies that might help clear your head.

So, let’s get started.

What exactly is diabetes fog?

Diabetes fog” can refer to several diabetes-related symptoms that affect your thinking. It can manifest as brain fog, memory loss, dizziness, and fatigue.

While diabetes is a complex condition that affects different people in different ways, it’s common for the disease to affect your cognitive abilities, including your concentration and mental clarity.

The good news is that while there are many causes of diabetes brain fog, there are also many ways to improve this condition.

What causes diabetes brain fog?

Because diabetes affects blood sugar levels, it can change how your body uses oxygen and glucose in the brain.

Diabetes can reduce blood flow to the small vessels of the inner ear (the source of balance) or other parts of the nervous system, which can cause diabetes-related dizziness.

Diabetes fog may also be caused by diabetes complications such as low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) or nerve damage in the hands and feet that make getting enough oxygen to your brain difficult.

Other diabetes-related conditions include poor circulation due to high blood pressure and diabetes-related kidney problems, which can also cause mental fog.

Brain Fog Diabetes: Common Symptoms

Here are some diabetes-related symptoms that may indicate diabetes fog: 

  • Feeling tired or “washed out.”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Headache
  • A sense of confusion or mental slowness
  • Feeling tired, even after a whole night’s sleep
  • Depression
  • Changes in mood
  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability

It is important to note that mental fog can also be an early symptom of diabetes and may be present before diabetes has been diagnosed.

Diabetes and Brain Fog: Diagnosis

If you are experiencing diabetes fog, consult your doctor.

To diagnose diabetes mental fog, your doctor will ask you several questions about the symptoms and conduct a physical examination to rule out other conditions that may be causing it.

Your doctor might also order blood tests or an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check for diabetes-related mental fog and other underlying conditions. 

Brain Fog Diabetes: Effective Remedies

If your mental fog is caused by diabetes, your doctor will likely prescribe medications to control blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes-related symptoms.

There are also many ways to improve diabetes brain fog without medication, such as the following:

Avoid dehydration

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they may worsen diabetes fog. 

Eat a diabetes-friendly diet.

A diabetes-friendly diet can help you maintain stable blood glucose levels. This means eating more healthy fats and proteins while limiting carbs, especially refined sugars, and starches.

Get plenty of sleep at night.

Research suggests that getting enough rest is important for optimal brain function. Aim to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise has diabetes-fighting benefits and can help you control your symptoms. Aim for a daily 30-minute walk or another type of physical activity that gets your heart pumping.

Manage stress levels 

Stress can worsen diabetes fog due to its effects on blood sugar levels. Try to get regular exercise, practice stress-relieving techniques such as yoga or meditation, and get plenty of rest.

If diabetes fog is caused by other health conditions related to diabetes, treating those conditions may help improve diabetes brain fog.

Cognitive Effects of Diabetes

Living with diabetes can have a significant impact on brain function.

Because diabetes affects blood sugar levels, it can change how your body uses oxygen and glucose in the brain.

Research shows that diabetes may cause cognitive dysfunction (also known as diabetes fog) due to its effect on blood flow to the brain. This is especially true if you have had diabetes for a long time or diabetes is poorly managed.

Diabetes fog includes symptoms such as feeling tired, irritable, and having difficulty concentrating. These diabetes-related mental health problems can make it difficult to manage diabetes and cause more serious complications if left untreated.

Although researchers don’t fully understand diabetes and brain fog, diabetes can affect brain function in many ways.

Here are some diabetes-related conditions that may cause diabetes fog: 

Brain Atrophy (Shrinkage)

Over time, high blood sugar levels due to diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your brain, leading to a condition called cerebral microangiopathy. This diabetes-related condition can cause diabetes brain fog and other cognitive problems as it progresses.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers have also found that diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a common form of dementia.

Studies show that insulin resistance—which is present in diabetes—may contribute to the development of dementia by damaging blood vessels in your brain and causing diabetes-related mental fog.

Depression and Anxiety

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of depression than those without the condition. Depression can cause diabetes fog and make it difficult to manage diabetes.

Anxiety may also contribute to diabetes fog due to its effect on blood sugar levels and the stress hormone cortisol. 

Schizophrenia

People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia, a severe mental illness that affects how they think, feel, and behave.

If you experience mental fog or any other cognitive problems, it’s essential to see your doctor for an evaluation. Many diabetes-related conditions can be treated successfully if caught early.

Eating Disorders

Diabetes-related eating disorders may also cause your brain fog.

For example, some people with diabetes experience burnout due to their management and treatment demands. This can lead to diabetes distress and denial, which is when you don’t want to deal with your diabetes anymore.

These types of diabetes-related eating disorders can cause brain fog and make it difficult to manage diabetes.

Diabetes-Related Complications 

There are many complications that may be related to diabetes brain fog, including:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)  
  • Kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy)
  • Peripheral neuropathy, a diabetes-related condition that causes numbness and tingling in your hands or feet.
  • Diabetic retinopathy, diabetes-related damage to the blood vessels of your eye 
  • Stroke
  • Depression and anxiety 

All of these diabetes-related conditions can affect your ability to think and make decisions, which may cause brain fog.

If you are experiencing diabetes brain fog, it is important to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. They can help you determine the cause of your diabetes fog and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Metformin in the Diabetic Brain

Metformin is a drug that reduces diabetes-related complications and improves cognitive function.

However, the drug has also been shown to cause brain fog in some people with diabetes.

If you are taking metformin and experience diabetes fog, talk to your doctor about whether or not the drug is causing your symptoms.

There may be other medications available that can help reduce your diabetes-related cognitive problems without causing diabetes fog.

Since a variety of different conditions can cause diabetes brain fog, it is essential to talk to your doctor about any diabetes-related cognitive problems you may be experiencing.

Your doctor can help determine the cause of diabetes fog and recommend appropriate treatment options.

How to Prevent the Onset of Diabetes

Preventing diabetes is the best way to prevent diabetes-related complications like diabetes fog.

If you are at risk of developing diabetes, it is vital to take steps to lower your risk by making lifestyle changes and eating a healthy diet.  

Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your risk for diabetes-related problems like diabetes brain fog.

A healthy diet should include:

  • plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains instead of processed carbs
  • lean protein sources like fish, chicken, and tofu
  • healthy fats like nuts and olive oil

Lifestyle Changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes can also help reduce your risk for diabetes.

Some diabetes prevention tips include:

  • being physically active every day
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • not smoking
  • managing stress levels

If you are at risk for diabetes, it is crucial to make these changes to your lifestyle. You may also want to talk to your doctor about taking diabetes medication to help reduce your diabetes risks.

If you have diabetes, it is important to manage your condition as well as possible. This can help prevent diabetes-related complications like brain fog.

Diabetes Brain Fog Diet: Foods that Improve Diabetes-Related Cognitive Problems

Eating a healthy diet can help improve diabetes-related cognitive problems like brain fog.

Here are some foods that we highly recommend to add to your diet:

Almonds and walnuts

Nuts are high in vitamin E, which can help improve diabetes-related cognitive problems like brain fog.

Blueberries and strawberries

Berries are high in antioxidants, which may help improve diabetes-related cognitive function.

Tomatoes and carrots.

Carrots are high in beta-carotene, a nutrient that may help improve diabetes-related cognitive problems.

Spinach

Leafy greens like spinach are high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can help improve diabetes-related brain fog.

If you are struggling with brain fog due to your diabetes, it is important to talk to your doctor about diabetes fog dietary recommendations.

Your doctor may be able to recommend healthy food options for brain fog and can also discuss diabetes medication that may help improve diabetes-related cognitive problems. 

Concluding Thoughts

Brain fog diabetes is a common complication.

Diabetes fog can be caused by a variety of diabetes-related conditions, including sleep problems and certain medications.

If you are experiencing diabetes-related cognitive problems like brain fog, it is important to talk to your doctor about appropriate treatment options for diabetes fog.

Your doctor may recommend diabetes medication to help improve diabetes-related brain fog and make dietary recommendations that may help reduce diabetes-related cognitive problems.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to get rid of it effectively, check out these educational articles and feel free to join this online community of brain health enthusiasts. 

Join The Mental Health Community You've Been Dreaming Of


This discord family is a safe place where we can all (anonymously if we choose) talk about and seek help for what is going on in our heads.

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