Written by Dr. Savannah Muncy, Pharm.D on
September 2, 2022
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

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

When most people think of neurological disorders, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease come to mind.

However, there are a host of other disorders that can affect the brain and cause brain fog.

Brain fog is a term used to describe a wide range of symptoms that can make it difficult to think clearly or focus on tasks.

If you’re experiencing brain fog and don’t know where to turn, you’re not alone. This guide will provide an overview of neurological problems and their symptoms, as well as coping strategies for those affected.

Let’s get started.

What is a neurological disorder, exactly?

A neurological disorder is a condition that affects the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

Various symptoms can develop from structural, biochemical, or electrical abnormalities located in the brain, spinal cord, or other nerves.

Depending on the disorder, some of the most common symptoms include :

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or arms
  • seizures
  • chronic pain
  • cognitive impairments
  • brain fog.

Additionally, neurological disorders can be distinguished based on their effects either on the Central Nervous System (CNS) or the Peripheral Nerve System (PNS).

Central Nervous System Disorders

The central nerve system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Common examples of disorders that affect the CNS include:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • stroke
  • cerebral palsy.

These conditions can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including difficulty with:

  • movement
  • memory
  • thinking
  • speech.

Peripheral Nervous System Disorders

The peripheral nerve system is made up of the nerves that connect the CNS to the rest of your body. Common disorders that affect the PNS include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • peripheral neuropathy.

These disorders often cause:

  • numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • muscle weakness
  • loss of balance.

What causes neurological problems?

There are many different causes of neurological disorders, including:

Genetics

Some hereditary brain disorders are caused by random gene changes or environmental exposure, such as cigarette smoke.

Also, other disorders can be inherited, which means that a mutated gene or set of genes is passed from one generation to the next in a family. They might also be caused by both genetic changes and external factors.

Congenital abnormalities

These are problems that occur while a baby is developing in the womb.

For example, spina bifida is a congenital disability that occurs when the spinal column doesn’t close properly around the nerves. This can lead to nerve damage and other problems.

Infections

Certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites can infect the nerve system and cause neurological disorders. The most common include:

  • meningitis
  • encephalitis
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • West Nile virus.

Autoimmune Diseases

In some cases, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy nerve cells in the system. This can lead to neurological issues, such as:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

Tumors

Cancerous and noncancerous tumors can form in the brain or spinal cord and put pressure on nerves, leading to neurological problems.

Trauma

A head injury from a fall or car accident can cause bruising, bleeding, or swelling of the brain. This can result in long-term or permanent neurological issues.

Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off, leading to brain damage. This can cause problems with:

  • movement
  • speech
  • thinking
  • memory.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Certain vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy nerve function. A deficiency in any of these can lead to neurological disorders, including:

  • B vitamins
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • magnesium
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • zinc.

Metal poisoning

Studies show that exposure to high levels of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, can cause neurological problems.

Common Neurological Disorders that Have Brain Fog as a Symptom

There are many neurological disorders that can cause brain fog. Some of the most common include:

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. The symptoms typically develop slowly and get worse over time.

Symptoms

One of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s is brain fog. Other signs also include:

  • forgetfulness
  • increased confusion and memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inability to learn new things
  • trouble completing familiar tasks
  • trouble thinking logically
  • struggles with organizing thoughts
  • shortened attention span

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatment options that can help manage the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Staying active and engaged: Exercise has been shown to improve brain function and slow the progression of dementia. Social activities, such as joining a book club or playing games, can also help keep the mind active.

Eating a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve brain function. Omega-fatty acids have also been shown to be beneficial for brain health.

Managing stress: Stress can worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, can help reduce stress.

Treating other health conditions: Treating underlying health problems, such as depression, sleep disorders, or diabetes, can help improve brain function.

If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

ALS is a progressive neurological disease that affects the nerves in the spinal cord and brain.

ALS typically begins with muscle weakness and can eventually lead to paralysis.

Symptoms

The first symptoms of ALS are often mild, such as muscle weakness or cramps. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:

  • loss of muscle control
  • difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • shortness of breath
  • brain fog
  • paralysis.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for ALS, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Exercise: Exercise can help improve muscle function and slow the progression of the disease.

Nutritional support: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve overall health. Dietary supplements may also be recommended to help manage symptoms.

Speech therapy: Speech therapy can help with communication problems and swallowing difficulties.

Breathing assistance: If shortness of breath is a problem, a breathing machine may be used to help with ventilation.

Pain management: Pain medication and other treatments can help manage pain caused by ALS.

If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of ALS, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease down significantly.

Ataxia

Ataxia is a neurological condition that affects muscle coordination. It can be caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord, or it can be inherited.

There are many different types of ataxia, and the symptoms can vary depending on the type.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of ataxia is uncoordinated movement. Other symptoms may include:

  • loss of balance
  • difficulty walking
  • dizziness
  • brain fog
  • slurred speech
  • trouble swallowing
  • numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for ataxia, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve muscle coordination and balance.

Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help with activities of daily living, such as dressing and grooming.

Adaptive devices: Assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, can help with mobility.

Speech therapy: Speech therapy can help with communication problems and swallowing difficulties.

If you or a loved one is experiencing ataxia symptoms, it’s critical to see a doctor for an examination. Early diagnosis and therapy can help boost the prognosis.

Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is a type of facial paralysis that can occur at any age. It is caused by damage to the nerves in the face.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of Bell’s palsy is weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. Other symptoms may include:

  • drooping eyelid
  • dry eye
  • drooling
  • difficulty speaking
  • facial pain
  • brain fog
  • headache.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for Bell’s palsy, but there are treatments that can help improve the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Steroids: Steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Antiviral medications: If Bell’s palsy is caused by an infection, antiviral medications may be prescribed to help prevent the virus from causing further damage.

Pain medication: Pain medication can help relieve facial pain.

Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve muscle function and reduce stiffness.

Early diagnosis and treatment are key if you or a loved one experiences symptoms of Bell’s palsy. So, we highly recommend consulting a specialist if you have the signs.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological condition that affects the peripheral nerves. It can occur at any age, but it is most common in adults.

Infection usually causes GBS but can also be caused by surgery or trauma.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of GBS is weakness in the extremities. Other symptoms may include:

  • loss of sensation
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • pain
  • brain fog
  • difficulty walking
  • difficulty speaking.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for GBS, but there are treatments that can help improve the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Plasmapheresis: Plasmapheresis is a treatment that removes antibodies from the blood.

Immunoglobulin therapy: Immunoglobulin therapy is a treatment that uses healthy antibodies to help fight the infection.

Physical therapy: Muscle function and stiffness can be improved with physical therapy.

If you or a loved one experiences signs of GBS, it’s crucial to find medical care immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for the best possible outcome.

Meningitis

Meningitis is a severe neurological condition that occurs when the meninges, the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord, become inflamed.

An infection can cause meningitis but can also be caused by cancer, medications, or autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of meningitis is a severe headache. Other symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • stiff neck
  • sensitivity to light
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • brain fog
  • seizures.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for meningitis, but there are treatments that can help improve the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics can help clear the infection.

Steroids: Steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Pain medication: Pain medication can help relieve headache disorders and other pain.

If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of meningitis, it’s vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The earlier you catch and treat a problem, the better chance you have of fixing it.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS is a neurological condition that affects the central nerve system. It is most common in adults.

The cause of MS is unknown, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disease.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of MS is fatigue. Other symptoms may include:

  • weakness
  • tingling
  • numbness
  • brain fog
  • muscle spasms
  • difficulty walking
  • dizziness
  • bladder problems
  • sexual dysfunction.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for MS, but there are treatments that can help improve the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Disease-modifying therapies: Disease-modifying therapies, such as interferon beta, can help slow the progression of MS.

Steroids: Steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Pain medication: Pain medication can help relieve pain and muscle spasms.

If you or a loved one experiences signs of MS, it’s important to find medical care immediately. Early can slow the progression of MS.

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of neuromuscular disorders that cause muscle weakness and loss. It is most common in children, but it can occur at any age.

The cause of MD is unknown, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disease.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of MD is muscle weakness. Other symptoms may include:

  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • muscle cramps
  • difficulty walking
  • brain fog.

Coping Strategies

There is no known cure for MD, but there are treatments that can help improve the symptoms. Some coping strategies include:

Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve muscle function and mobility.

Assistive devices: Assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, can help with mobility.

Exercise: Exercise can help maintain muscle strength.

If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of MD, it’s vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for the best possible outcome.

Wrapping Up

There are many different neurological conditions that can cause brain fog.

If you think you may have a neurological condition, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for managing the symptoms and finding relief.

Also, if you want to learn more about clearing brain fog and improving your mental clarity and overall cognitive performance, make sure to check out these helpful resources on our blog

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