Brain fog is another common and often debilitating migraine symptom. Like fatigue, brain fog can occur at any phase of a migraine attack. In the prodrome and aura phases, brain fog can be an early warning sign that an attack is beginning. It can last through the attack stage and continue on through the postdrome phase, lasting for hours or even days. In fact, some people experience varying levels of brain fog all the time. Brain fog is a challenging and invisible migraine symptom.
What does brain fog feel like?
Brain fog varies in intensity and can feel both mental and physical. You may feel distracted, and/or have difficulty concentrating or focusing. It can be hard to think clearly. Recalling thoughts or words can be difficult, and it can cause temporary memory loss. You may feel a general feeling of fogginess, cloudiness or malaise. Brain fog can make you feel weak or low energy and sometimes can resemble feelings of fatigue.
Managing Brain Fog
Like most migraine symptoms, brain fog can be a sign of other conditions besides migraine, so it’s important to discuss it with your doctor, especially if it is significantly impacting your life.
Common migraine comorbidities which also cause brain fog include:
- Thyroid disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Sleep disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Hormone imbalances
Learning to cope with brain fog can be difficult, but there are some things you can do to make life more manageable.
1. Talk about it
Brain fog is a very difficult symptom as it can make it hard to do the simplest of tasks. Furthermore, it can be alarming and embarrassing to not be able to recall words or phrases. Explaining what you’re feeling to your family, friends and coworkers will help you feel less anxious and will give the people in your life a better understanding of what is going on and how to best support you.
Two women sitting on couch talking
Preventing migraine symptoms with migraine medications, both preventive and abortive, may help to alleviate or lessen brain fog. If your migraine are not well-controlled then it may be time to look at our Migraine Treatment Toolbox to see what treatment options are available, and then have a conversation with your doctor about it.
3. Migraine Devices
At the onset of brain fog symptoms, try using an FDA-cleared medical device for migraine. Brain fog is often one of the earliest warning signs that a migraine attack is starting and using a medical device specifically designed for migraine may help to stop or lighten the attack. You can also talk to your doctor about adding a device which is FDA-cleared for preventive treatment to see if that helps.
Moving your body can be a powerful way to manage brain fog and enhance mental clarity. You can read more about the many benefits of exercise and tips for getting moving here. It can be really hard to get moving when it feels like you are fighting against your brain, but doing so can make a huge difference.
Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. Keeping your blood sugar levels in check is important for healthy brain function. Choose brain-healthy foods such as those discussed here.
Dehydration can make brain fog symptoms even worse. Make sure you’re drinking enough clear liquids throughout the day.
woman cutting fruits and vegetables
Be sure to get enough sleep and rest when you need to. That also means taking a nap if you need to during the day. Pushing through is often not the best thing to do when trying to manage this migraine symptom. Read more about good sleep hygiene and get tips on improving the quality of your sleep here.
Talk with your doctor about whether or not supplements may help ease your brain fog symptoms and whether they are appropriate for you given your personal health history. Common supplements for mental clarity include:
- Vitamin B (B2, B6, B12)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
- Ginkgo Biloba
NOTE: Be sure to talk with your doctor first as supplements can interact with other conditions and/or medications.