Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
April 5, 2022
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

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

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Do you ever feel like your head is in a fog? Like you can’t think straight, and everything is just a big blur? If so, you’re not alone.

Many people who suffer from migraine experience brain fog during and after a migraine attack. This can be extremely frustrating and debilitating.

In this blog post, we will discuss 10 ways to cope with migraine brain fog. We will also provide tips for preventing brain fog from occurring in the first place and improving your overall cognitive function.

Let’s get started.

What exactly is a migraine?

A migraine is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and central nervous system.

This chronic illness is characterized by severe head pain, usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraines, just like most headache disorders, are believed to be caused by changes in the brain’s blood flow, neurotransmitters, and electrical activity.

They can also be triggered by certain foods, environmental factors, stress, hormonal changes, and more. 

Symptoms of migraine can vary from person to person. Some people experience only head pain, while others suffer from a wide range of cognitive symptoms, including nerve pain, fatigue, and aura (commonly characterized by visual and sensory disturbances).

What exactly is brain fog?

Brain fog or mental fog is a term used to describe feeling mentally confused, groggy, and unfocused.

This type of cognitive impairment can be caused by many things, including stress, anxiety, medication side effects, and lack of sleep.

When brain fog hits, it can make it difficult for you to think clearly, focus on tasks, and remember things. It can also lead to feelings of fatigue and disorientation.

There are many causes of brain fog, but the most common ones are:

Migraine brain fog is a specific type of brain fog that is often associated with migraine attacks. It is characterized by mental confusion, difficulty concentrating, and feeling mentally “foggy.”

Brain fog after migraine is a common problem that can persist for days or even weeks after the migraine attack has ended.

Can migraine cause brain fog, or can brain fog cause migraine?

It’s not entirely clear which comes first – migraine or brain fog.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, some people report that they experience brain fog during migraine attacks, while others say that brain fog is a symptom of post-migraine syndrome, also known as postdrome.

There is some evidence to suggest that migraine can cause changes in the brain that lead to cognitive dysfunction.

On the other hand, studies have shown that brain fog can be a side effect of migraine medications and can persist long after the migraine has ended.

The bottom line is that we still don’t know for sure which comes first – migraine or brain fog. But it’s clear that they are both closely associated with each other and can significantly impact your quality of life. 

Brain Fog Migraine: Common Symptoms

If you’re experiencing brain fog due to migraine, you may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Neck pain
  • Body chills
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Allodynia or too much sensitivity to touch
  • Sinus-like issues (i.e., facial pressure, nasal congestion, watery discharge).
  • Phantom smells (usually characterized by a burning, smoky, or decomposing smell). 

If these symptoms become so adverse that they are significantly impacting your quality of life negatively, we highly recommend that you consult your doctor or a neurologist to help you find the best treatment plan as soon as possible.

Migraine Fog Diagnosis

Migraine fog can be challenging to diagnose because it doesn’t have a specific set of symptoms.

In fact, many people who suffer from migraine brain fog may not even realize that they have it according to the American Migraine Foundation.

The best way to determine if you’re experiencing migraine brain fog is by keeping a headache diary. This is where you track your migraine symptoms, including the type of migraine you have (with or without aura), the intensity of the migraine pain, and any associated symptoms like brain fog.

If you’re experiencing cognitive problems like difficulty concentrating and feeling mentally “foggy,” it’s important to mention this to your doctor. He or she may refer you to a neurologist for further evaluation.

10 Ways to Cope with Migraine Brain Fog Effectively

Chronic migraine fog can make it difficult for you to do everyday tasks and can significantly affect your overall quality of life. But there are ways to cope with it effectively.

Here are our top ten tips for migraine prevention:

Get enough sleep

One of the best ways to cope with brain fog from migraine is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, so try to stick to a regular sleep schedule.

If you find it difficult to fall or stay asleep, there are some things you can do to help: 

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Don’t watch television or use electronics in bed
  • Listen to calm, soothing sounds
  • Practice some relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation

Limit stress

Another key way to reduce brain fog is to limit your stress levels. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to migraine. 

There are many ways to reduce stress, including:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi
  • Qi Gong
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Journaling

Be as organized as possible

Being organized will help you to become more efficient and productive, which can reduce migraine brain fog.

To get organized, try:

  • Using a daily planner to keep track of your schedule
  • Making to-do lists
  • Prioritizing your tasks
  • Cleaning up your work area

Eat well-balanced meals

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is another important way to reduce migraine fog. Make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

People with migraine should avoid processed foods and sugary snacks, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Exercise  regularly

Regular exercise is another excellent way to reduce stress and improve the overall mood of migraine patients. It can also help to improve your cognitive function.

People with migraine should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, and try to break it up into three or four shorter sessions.

Choose activities that you enjoy, so you’re more likely to stick with them.

Avoid triggers

If you know what causes your migraines, try to avoid them as much as possible. This might include:

  • Certain foods (chocolate, aged cheese, red wine, etc.)
  • Stressful situations
  • Smoke and fumes
  • Bright lights
  • Loud noises
  • Changes in weather

Stay hydrated

It’s essential to stay hydrated when you’re experiencing brain fog from migraine, as dehydration can make the symptoms worse. Drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day. 

Take medication

If you’re experiencing severe migraine fog, your doctor may prescribe medication to help. There are many different prescription medications available that can be tailored to your specific needs.

If you’re not sure which medication is right for you, ask your doctor to refer you to a neurologist.

Educate the people around you 

If you experience migraine fog, it’s important to educate the people around you about your condition. This includes family, friends, and co-workers.

Let them know what migraine fog is and how it can affect you, especially your cognitive functioning. This will help them to understand your condition and be more supportive.

Ask for help when needed 

If you’re struggling to cope with migraine fog, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. They can help you with things like childcare, housework, and errands.

You can also hire someone to help you with things like transportation or yard work.

Also, if your symptoms get too adverse, seek professional help—a neurologist can help you come up with better strategies to cope with your migraine and brain fog, such as treatment options that are tailored for your needs and goals.

Postdrome, also known as Migraine Hangover

Migraine hangover, or postdrome, is the final stage of a migraine. It usually starts once the migraine pain has gone away.

During this phase, you may feel drained and fatigued. You may also experience brain fog, as well as mood changes such as depression or elation.

For many migraine sufferers, postdrome usually lasts for 24 to 48 hours.

In some cases, postdrome may last for up to a week.

To help cope with migraine hangover:

  • Rest as much as possible.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Avoid triggers.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Talk to your doctor about medication.
  • Seek professional help if needed.

If you’re struggling to cope with a migraine hangover, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends.

The Bottom Line

Brain fog is a common symptom of migraine—it can cause other symptoms such as fatigue, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating.

There are many things you can do to reduce mental fog from migraine. These include getting organized, eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, and avoiding triggers.

If you’re struggling to cope with migraine fog, talk to your doctor about medication and other treatment options. You can also ask for help from family and friends.

In most cases, migraine brain fog will improve with time and proper self-care. However, if your symptoms are severe or last for more than a few days, it’s vital to seek professional help.

If you want to learn more about brain fog and how to clear it effectively, here are some helpful articles to read, and feel free to join this online community of brain health advocates.

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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