Have you heard of “brain fog”? Many people with PF have a hard time thinking clearly, remembering things, or focusing. While PF is a lung disease, it can affect all aspects of your quality of life. In this month’s new blog, learn more about what brain fog is, why it can occur for people with PF, and what you can do to combat it.

What is brain fog?

Brain fog can be described in a variety of ways. Here is how it often presents: 

  • Feeling like your thoughts are ‘foggy’ or ‘cloudy’
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing 
  • Appearing confused or scatter-brained 
  • Challenges solving problems or thinking through things  

Doctors typically refer to brain fog as “cognitive dysfunction.” These symptoms can significantly impact people’s daily lives, relationships, and emotional experiences of PF.

Why does brain fog occur?

Brain fog is a symptom that can occur for people with PF, connective tissue disorders, COVID long haul, or a variety of other medical reasons. Research has shown that people with severe PF have worse cognitive function than people with mild PF. Research has also shown that people with PF, regardless of severity, are more likely to experience brain fog than people without PF. In other words, brain fog can occur at any stage of the disease.

For people with PF, there are a few suspected reasons for brain fog to occur. First of all, low oxygen saturation can directly impact your brain functioning, resulting in symptoms like brain fog. Other potential reasons can include:

  • Stress: Having PF can be exceedingly stressful, and take a serious toll on your entire body. Being stressed frequently and chronically can impact your mental health and physical well-being, including your ability to think clearly. 
  • Poor sleep: For your brain to properly function, your body needs deep, uninterrupted sleep. If you feel tired all the time, your brain probably does too! Getting quality sleep is difficult for people with PF, especially if you are experiencing common symptoms like chronic coughing or anxiety.
  • Diet: Research has shown a link between your gut and your brain. The food you eat, as well as the nutrients you absorb, can influence your mental clarity and functioning. 
  • Medications: Certain medications list cognitive dysfunction as a potential side effect. Certain medical treatments (for cancer, for example) can impact brain fog too. 
  • Allergies or sensitivities: People with PF may be sensitive to chemicals, scents, and other environmental elements. Air quality, smoke, mold exposure, or other concerns can all trigger symptoms such as brain fog.

What can you do to address brain fog?

For those noticing brain fog: talk to your doctor to determine the root cause. When addressing brain fog, it’s important to understand whether the symptoms are related to PF, or whether they may be signaling a separate medical concern. 

If your doctor suspects the brain fog is related to low oxygen saturation levels, they may suggest you start supplemental oxygen. If you are already using supplemental oxygen, you can talk to your doctor about your unique case and determine whether to use the supplemental oxygen differently or more frequently. 

Here are additional ways to boost your lifestyle and directly address factors that may be influencing brain fog:

To address stress:

  • Practice mindfulness and meditation here
  • Practice memory exercises here

To address poor sleep:

  • Discover the importance of sleep here
  • Learn tips for better sleep here

To address diet:

  • See our full list of nutrition-related blogs here
  • Use the search bar on our main blog page to look for nutrition-related topics that interest you most, such as ‘recipes’, ‘supplements’, or ‘superfoods’.

To address medications:

  • Learn about commonly prescribed medications here
  • Learn about the potential side effects of commonly prescribed medications here

To address allergies or sensitivities:

  • Identify potential triggers from environmental exposures here

For those unsure about brain fog: if you’re not sure whether brain fog is affecting you or related to a PF diagnosis, try downloading our recordkeeping templates and tracking your treatment plan and symptoms. Part 1 is available here, and part 2 is available here

Stay In Touch

PF NOW! hosts virtual support groups on Teams multiple times each month. Not only will you strengthen your network of connections but you’ll learn firsthand how those with PF best look after themselves. PF NOW! also has a Facebook group whose active community shares their PF journey and their tips with others. New to online support groups? Download our free step-by-step guide for online advocacy here.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information received from us.

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