Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
August 26, 2022
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

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

Do you feel like you’re not yourself lately? Are you having trouble thinking clearly and focusing on tasks? You might be experiencing brain fog.

Brain fog is a general feeling of cloudiness, drowsiness, or fuzziness. It can be caused by many different things, such as underlying medical conditions, as well as certain medications and lifestyle choices.

In this article, we will discuss different types of health conditions that cause brain fog and how to manage them.

Let’s get started.

What is a medical condition, exactly?

A medical condition is any type of physical or mental impairment. This can include chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It can also refer to temporary conditions like a cold or the flu.

Health problems can be caused by many different things and risk factors, including:

  • genetics,
  • infections,
  • injuries,
  • lifestyle behaviors,
  • exposure to toxic substances,
  • and a lot more.

And there are various types of health conditions that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including brain fog.

Medical Conditions that Cause Brain Fog and Other Cognitive Issues

There are many underlying conditions that can cause cognitive impairment, such as brain fog. These include:

Anemia

Anemia is a health condition that occurs when there is a decrease in the number of healthy red blood cells in the body.

Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues and organs, so a decrease can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog

Anemia can be caused by many different things, including blood loss, a decrease in red blood cell production, and the destruction of red blood cells.

Symptoms

The signs of being anemic include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Brain fogginess

How to Manage

If you think you might be anemic, it’s important to see a healthcare provider. They will order a blood test to confirm the diagnosis and determine the cause.

The treatment for anemia depends on the underlying cause. For example, if you have iron-deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend iron supplements or changes to your diet.

Autoimmune Diseases

An autoimmune disease is a medical condition in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.

There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, and they can affect any part of the body.

Some common examples include:

  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Lupus
  • Type I diabetes
  • Celiac disease

Symptoms

The symptoms of autoimmune disease vary depending on the type. But some common signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Brain fog

How to Manage

If you think you might have an autoimmune disease, it’s important to see a doctor. They will order tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan.

Treatment for an autoimmune disease often includes medication, lifestyle changes, and home remedies.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis is a health issue that affects the central nervous system.

It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells. In MS, the immune response attacks myelin, the protective coating around nerve fibers.

Symptoms

The MS damage can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Coordination problems
  • Bladder and bowel issues
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Brain fogginess

How to Manage

If you believe you have MS, it’s critical to visit a physician right away. They will perform tests in order to confirm the diagnosis and devise the optimum therapy strategy.

Managing MS may require medication, alterations to your lifestyle, and home-based treatments.

Lupus

Lupus is another autoimmune disease that can cause brain fog and other cognitive issues.

With lupus, the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This can cause inflammation and damage throughout the body.

Symptoms

The symptoms of lupus vary depending on the individual, but some common ones include:

  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Brain fuzziness

How to Manage

If you have concerns about lupus, it’s critical to consult a doctor. They will request testing to confirm the diagnosis and determine the most suitable therapy strategy.

Lupus treatment typically consists of a combination of medication, lifestyle adjustments, and home remedies.

Cancer

Cancer is a broad term that refers to the abnormal growth of cells.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer, and they can affect any part of the body.

Some common examples include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Brain cancer

Symptoms

Cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer, but some general signs include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Skin changes
  • Brain fog

How to Manage

If you have any concerns about cancer, it’s important to see a doctor. They will perform tests to confirm the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

Cancer treatment often includes steps to healthy living, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid disorders are chronic medical conditions that affect the thyroid gland.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature.

There are two main types of thyroid disorders:

  • Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone)
  • Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone)

Symptoms

The symptoms of thyroid disorders vary depending on the type. But some common ones include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Brain fogginess

How to Manage

If you think you might have a thyroid disorder, it’s important to see a medical professional. In order to verify the diagnosis, tests will be conducted, and then a treatment plan will be created.

Treatment for thyroid disorders often includes medication and lifestyle changes.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition that causes extreme fatigue. This fatigue doesn’t improve with rest and can get worse with physical or mental activity.

Symptoms

CFS can also cause other symptoms, such as:

How to Manage

If you believe you have CFS, it’s crucial to see a doctor. They can order tests and rule out other potential causes of your fatigue.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for CFS, but management strategies may include medication, lifestyle changes, and therapy.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a health problem that causes widespread pain and fatigue.

It’s believed to be the result of an overactive nervous system. This means that people with fibromyalgia are more sensitive to pain than other people.

Symptoms

In addition to pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia can also cause:

  • Sleep problems
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

How to Manage

If you think you may have fibromyalgia, visiting a doctor is critical. They can order tests and verify the diagnosis.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but treatments can help alleviate symptoms. Management strategies may include medication, lifestyle changes, and therapy.

Covid-19

Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified in 2019.

It’s similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. However, it’s much more contagious and has resulted in a global pandemic.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Covid-19 range from mild to severe. They can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Brain fogginess

How to Manage

If you think you have Covid-19, it’s critical that you seek medical assistance. They can order tests to determine whether or not other factors are contributing to your issues.

There is no known cure for Covid-19, but receiving medical care, such as getting a flu shot or covid vaccines, making lifestyle changes, and undergoing therapy may help improve your symptoms.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when the body’s ability to process glucose is compromised.

Glucose is a type of sugar that’s found in the blood. It’s used for energy, but if there’s too much of it can damage the body.

Symptoms

Some common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory problems

How to Manage

Don’t self-diagnose—if you think you have diabetes, see a doctor. They will be able to perform the necessary tests and give an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for diabetes usually entails the use of medicine, self-care, and lifestyle modifications, such as starting to become physically active.

Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition that occurs when the force of the blood against the walls of the arteries is too high.

If left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.

Symptoms

The symptoms of hypertension are often subtle and may not be noticeable.

However, some people may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive issues

How to Manage

If you think you have hypertension, it’s important to visit a doctor. They will be able to measure your blood pressure and rule out other potential causes of your symptoms.

Treatment for hypertension often includes medication and lifestyle changes. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary.

Hormonal Imbalance

A hormonal imbalance occurs when the levels of hormones in the body are out of sync.

This can be due to a number of factors, such as stress, diet, and certain medical conditions.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a hormonal imbalance vary depending on the individual. However, some common signs include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep issues
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Skin changes
  • Memory problems

How to Manage

Hormonal imbalances can cause a variety of symptoms, so if you think you might be experiencing one, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. They will order tests and help determine the root of the problem.

Hormonal imbalances can be treated by medication, dietary adjustments, and supplements. In certain situations, surgery may be required.

Migraine

A migraine is a type of headache that’s characterized by severe pain, throbbing, and sensitivity to light.

Migraines can last for hours or even days. And while there are medication options available, they don’t always work for everyone.

Symptoms

The symptoms of migraine vary from person to person. However, some common signs include:

  • Pain that’s throbbing or pulsing
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and smells
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in mood
  • Cognitive problems

How to Manage

If you think you might be experiencing a migraine, it’s important to see a doctor. They can rule out other potential causes of your symptoms and help you find the best course of treatment.

There is no cure for migraines, but there are ways to manage them. Medication, lifestyle changes, and home remedies may all be helpful in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are a type of medical condition that can interfere with a person’s ability to get enough rest.

There are many different types of sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea.

Symptoms

The symptoms of sleep disorders vary depending on the individual and the type of disorder. However, some common signs include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Waking up feeling tired
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Changes in mood
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating

How to Manage

A sleep disorder can negatively affect many areas of your life, so it’s crucial to visit a doctor if you think you might have one. They will be able to diagnose the issue and suggest steps for treatment.

To combat sleep disorders, patients might have to turn to medication, therapy, and even surgery in more serious cases. However, making small lifestyle changes could also be incredibly beneficial.

Nutrient Deficiencies

A nutrient deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t have enough of a certain vitamin or mineral.

This can be due to a number of factors, such as an unhealthy diet or medical conditions that make it difficult to absorb nutrients.

Symptoms

The symptoms of nutrient deficiencies vary depending on the individual and the type of deficiency. However, some common signs include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Mood changes
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Skin problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Changes in appetite
  • Brain fog

How to Manage

If you believe you might have a nutrient deficiency, it’s vital to consult with a doctor. They can administer tests and propose treatments.

Eating a balanced diet is the best way to prevent nutrient deficiencies. However, in some cases, supplements may be necessary to correct the issue.

Mental Illnesses

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that can affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors.

There are many different types of mental illness, including anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder.

Symptoms

The symptoms of mental illness vary depending on the individual and the type of disorder. However, some common signs include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

How to Manage

If you believe you may have a mental condition, seeing a doctor is essential. They can rule out other potential causes of your symptoms and suggest the best course of action for you.

There is no cure for mental illness, but there are ways to manage it. Medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes can all be helpful in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Concluding Thoughts

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to see a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying health issues.

Once a medical condition has been ruled out, there are several things you can do to help manage brain fog.

Some healthy living choices that may help include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing stress
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking

If you think you may have a medical condition that’s causing your brain fog, treatment will vary depending on the underlying issue.

However, there are many options available that can help improve your symptoms.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional if you’re struggling with brain fog or other symptoms of a possible underlying condition. They can help you determine the cause and find the best way to treat it.

If you want to learn more about improving your overall brain health, check out the helpful resources we compiled on our blog

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