4/4 - Brain Fog

Newcomer introductions, personal anecdotes, caregiver issues, lab results, and n=1 experimentation.
Bakesbrot
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4/4 - Brain Fog

Postby Bakesbrot » Wed Sep 01, 2021 9:06 am

Hey all,

I'm 32, based in the UK and I found out that I'm a 4/4 this year (through the accidental 23 and me route).

My health in general is OK (I'm relatively fit, slim and no specific illnesses to note). However, I find I often get bouts of brain fog/body fatigue. I also get colds quite often, i.e. I have had a recurring sore throat once a month for the past 4 months. I'm just wondering if anyone has dealt with this before and what they check for to improve this? I definitely get enough sleep (sometimes too much), do some exercise (around 3x a week, so I know I should improve this) and eat generally healthily (except sometimes 1/2 nights a week).

In terms of brain fog I mean - forgetting what people are talking about, tired & heavy eyes, I'm currently trying to study and it's just not sinking in, I memorised my NHS number for example, which is 10 digits, and sometimes I remember it and sometimes I don't (which is strange to me), I forget what I'm thinking about (but I'm usually thinking of about 100 things at once), my sentences are sometimes disjointed, etc.

Work wise and study wise I am working in data / accountancy so I am mentally stimulated but I also want to be on the ball and I definitely feel like I'm not.

Blood test wise they all seem relatively OK, insulin resistance is good, no risk of diabetes (except genetically) and low CRP. The only things to note would be:
low ApoA1 - 1.52 g/l but the APOB/APOA ratio is good at 0.5
low HDL cholesterol - 1.6 mmol/L but total cholesterol 3.9 mmolL
high MCV and MCH (just over range) of 98.7fl and 33.8pg
Iron is a bit strange as the level was OK at 18.4 umol/L but TIBC is low at 44.84 umol/L and UIBC at 26.4 umol/L. Transferrin saturation is 41.12%. Ferritin is 55.6 ug/L
Vitamins were all OK (magnesium, Zinc, B and D) but maybe D at lower end of range. Although I do supplement all of these, and definitely know when I've missed the magnesium
DHEA sulphate high (I'm female) at 9.84 umol/L but I did more hormone blood tests for this to rule out PCOS and it all came back fine.
Omega 6 to 3 ratio is bad at 18.43. With ARA at 11.24 and EPA at 0.61.

Sorry that this is so long but does anyone have any recommendations or things that have helped them? I know everyone here has done a lot of research on cognitive improvement so I would be very grateful. I'm tired of feeling like this, going to the doctors and getting nowhere. Thank you so so much in advance!

Jess

NF52
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Re: 4/4 - Brain Fog

Postby NF52 » Wed Sep 01, 2021 6:07 pm

Bakesbrot wrote:Hey all,

I'm 32, based in the UK and I found out that I'm a 4/4 this year (through the accidental 23 and me route).

My health in general is OK (I'm relatively fit, slim and no specific illnesses to note). However, I find I often get bouts of brain fog/body fatigue. I also get colds quite often, i.e. I have had a recurring sore throat once a month for the past 4 months. I'm just wondering if anyone has dealt with this before and what they check for to improve this? I definitely get enough sleep (sometimes too much), do some exercise (around 3x a week, so I know I should improve this) and eat generally healthily (except sometimes 1/2 nights a week).

In terms of brain fog I mean - forgetting what people are talking about, tired & heavy eyes, I'm currently trying to study and it's just not sinking in, I memorised my NHS number for example, which is 10 digits, and sometimes I remember it and sometimes I don't (which is strange to me), I forget what I'm thinking about (but I'm usually thinking of about 100 things at once), my sentences are sometimes disjointed, etc.

Work wise and study wise I am working in data / accountancy so I am mentally stimulated but I also want to be on the ball and I definitely feel like I'm not.
...
Sorry that this is so long but does anyone have any recommendations or things that have helped them? I know everyone here has done a lot of research on cognitive improvement so I would be very grateful. I'm tired of feeling like this, going to the doctors and getting nowhere. Thank you so so much in advance!

Jess
Hi Jess from a 4/4 who is old enough to be your mother and remembers lots of days in my 30's of feeling like I was exhausted--mostly in retrospect because I WAS exhausted. It sounds like your body has been trying hard to fight off a recurrent sore throat and that you feel the NHS docs are minimizing that and not helping you get over it. That has to be both frustrating and worrisome.

You also mention both studying and working, which sounds like you're on a tread mill while also "balancing 100 things at once". I used to work with great speech therapists and neuropsychologists who studied what happens after concussions and found a lot about what happens when any of us tries to stretch our brain past its fatigue point--even without a brain injury! Our cognitive skills plummet!

And often what goes first is attention. You can't remember "what did I just read" because you're brain is sorting through all of your to-do list, or is simply tired. "What is my 10-digit code" is something you would recognize, but not get from "free recall". [And lots of research suggests most people can only remember 7 digits, so don't worry about 10 digits!]

My TBI friends and I used ask teachers, who wondered why a smart 14 year old was suddenly struggling in school after a "minor" concussion , how well they functioned on 3 hours of sleep or when they had a bad cold. The reply: "Not great!"
The Solution that works most of the time: Give you body and brain some serious attention by re-working your schedule to allow for brain breaks every 20-40 minutes and more concentrated periods away fro mental work. Set a timer when studying for 20 minutes: Get up, do some quick aerobic exercise, go out and take a job around the block, or take a 20 minute nap. You may quickly find that you remember more and get more done when you work in short chunks. The exercise will improve the blood flow to your brain and your future self will thank you for that! Also--try putting work away an hour or two before bed. It's much easier to get high quality sleep when you're brain waves are on high alert!

You may also find that you have a tendency to worry about that to-do list of 100 things. Trying some cognitive self-talk may help--and you can probably find lots of resources online. But something as simple as positive self-affirmation: "This is a specific, temporary problem with my schedule and not something pervasive or permanent about me. I have gotten through lots of tough times and will give myself permission to slow down a bit and re-adjust my timelines". [Hint-that may mean out-sourcing some of those to-dos to colleagues, friends, family or hired help--or deciding to put them off!]

One of the best "prescriptions" I got from a doctor when I was working 20 hours a week in grad school and took on two internships for another 30 hours a week and wondered why I had stomach pains for months was this: "You need a vacation and you need to do less." I did and I felt much better.

Your 4/4 status doesn't put you at risk of brain fog now, so I hope you both ask those doctors for some more help and cut your to-do's in half!
Hugs from across the pond.
4/4 and still an optimist!

Bakesbrot
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Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2021 1:48 pm

Re: 4/4 - Brain Fog

Postby Bakesbrot » Mon Sep 06, 2021 3:51 am

NF52 wrote:Hi Jess from a 4/4 who is old enough to be your mother and remembers lots of days in my 30's of feeling like I was exhausted--mostly in retrospect because I WAS exhausted. It sounds like your body has been trying hard to fight off a recurrent sore throat and that you feel the NHS docs are minimizing that and not helping you get over it. That has to be both frustrating and worrisome.

You also mention both studying and working, which sounds like you're on a tread mill while also "balancing 100 things at once". I used to work with great speech therapists and neuropsychologists who studied what happens after concussions and found a lot about what happens when any of us tries to stretch our brain past its fatigue point--even without a brain injury! Our cognitive skills plummet!

And often what goes first is attention. You can't remember "what did I just read" because you're brain is sorting through all of your to-do list, or is simply tired. "What is my 10-digit code" is something you would recognize, but not get from "free recall". [And lots of research suggests most people can only remember 7 digits, so don't worry about 10 digits!]

My TBI friends and I used ask teachers, who wondered why a smart 14 year old was suddenly struggling in school after a "minor" concussion , how well they functioned on 3 hours of sleep or when they had a bad cold. The reply: "Not great!"
The Solution that works most of the time: Give you body and brain some serious attention by re-working your schedule to allow for brain breaks every 20-40 minutes and more concentrated periods away fro mental work. Set a timer when studying for 20 minutes: Get up, do some quick aerobic exercise, go out and take a job around the block, or take a 20 minute nap. You may quickly find that you remember more and get more done when you work in short chunks. The exercise will improve the blood flow to your brain and your future self will thank you for that! Also--try putting work away an hour or two before bed. It's much easier to get high quality sleep when you're brain waves are on high alert!

You may also find that you have a tendency to worry about that to-do list of 100 things. Trying some cognitive self-talk may help--and you can probably find lots of resources online. But something as simple as positive self-affirmation: "This is a specific, temporary problem with my schedule and not something pervasive or permanent about me. I have gotten through lots of tough times and will give myself permission to slow down a bit and re-adjust my timelines". [Hint-that may mean out-sourcing some of those to-dos to colleagues, friends, family or hired help--or deciding to put them off!]

One of the best "prescriptions" I got from a doctor when I was working 20 hours a week in grad school and took on two internships for another 30 hours a week and wondered why I had stomach pains for months was this: "You need a vacation and you need to do less." I did and I felt much better.

Your 4/4 status doesn't put you at risk of brain fog now, so I hope you both ask those doctors for some more help and cut your to-do's in half!
Hugs from across the pond.


Thank you so much for your kind words! I think I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself recently and feeling a bit lost. I actually ended up skipping my exam and going on holiday, even before I read this!!! So it was definitely the right recommendation :). I was just wondering if this brain fog was normal as I see a lot of people under a lot more stress than me functioning totally fine. I’ll definitely work on slowing down and doing more exercise/taking breaks. I also need to do more meditation to clear my mind.

I wonder if anyone had any ideas about my blood test results? I.e. is anything worrying that I should rectify? I know I need to work on my omega 3 levels, but I struggle taking the omega 3 tablets as it always makes me super nauseous afterwards (and almost like I have a gnawing pain in my stomach). Thank you all!! I’m so glad to have found this community early so I can start making changes now. Jess


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