Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Living with Autoimmune Disease: Post-Cold Brain Fog

I am now over my cold, but there were some minor hassles along the way as is often the case when you have autoimmune disease.

The good news is that I am physically better.  Yes, my internist made me come in to make sure that it was nothing bacterial and all my tests were negative.  I got over the cold much faster than usual. It didn't take multiple weeks this time. Instead, I felt better after a week of resting and babying myself.  Maybe I can attribute this to the homemade ginger tea with honey bought directly from a local farm that I drank daily. The cold also did not cause a flare, which was a huge relief.

One side effect that has lingered is brain fog.  I can't say for certain that the virus caused the fog, but the timing makes it seem likely.  The fog is worse in the mornings and it takes me until mid-day if at all to get my brain going.  Things that would usually come naturally to me cognitively are a challenge and my mental capacity feels like it has temporarily diminished.  Things take longer.  For me, each episode of brain fog is slightly different.  It's never fun, but I try to get through it with some tips I keep in mind.

1) Keeping myself engaged.  I am reading and now returning to write.  While it can be frustrating, keeping my mind somewhat active in short segments seems to help.

 2) Light non-strenuous exercise improves my concentration and focus.  I have been taking walks or a short bike ride and feel a bit less foggy afterward.

 3) Coffee. Yes, I know many say to stay away from caffeine during brain fog.  But for me, one cup the morning does seem to help.

 4) Keep my calendar up to date. This is one of those times were trying to remember what appointments I have during the week is not going to work.  I will end up at the wrong location at the wrong time. Yes, that has happened before.

 5) Socializing. Brain Fog does not mean you have to hide yourself from the world. Having to interact with others both distracts me from thinking about the fog, but also forces my brain to work and get rolling.  If I don't feel well enough to meet someone, talking on the phone to friends or family is another good option.

 6) Realistic expectations. This is true for living with autoimmune disease generally.  I am putting things aside that I know that I can't handle right now. Trying to read a dense history book or figure out a complicated health insurance issue might just have to wait another few days.

 7) Focus on the basics.  I ask myself what is completely necessary to get done today.  If I am able to handle more that is great, but if not tomorrow is a new day.  And there is a chance the fog will have lifted by then.

I am certainly annoyed by this no good fogginess, but I am relieved it doesn't seem to coincide with feeling worse physically.  Just excuse any typos or commas out of place for now.  How do you get through foggy periods?


  1. So pleased I have found supportive information
    about Sjogrnes, Lupus and RA.
    Thank goodness
    this not arrive until my 70's
    and no brain fog...

  2. That makes a lot of sense. I have been playing games to help stimulate different areas of my brain and I always do better if I drink some Pepsi - the sugar and caffeine make an obvious difference. Now I guess the trick is to improve so I don't need to do that.
    Those points sound good for self-preservation.

  3. And ALWAYS carry your notebook (w/lists) with you.

  4. Most upsetting thing is when I am going somewhere in the car and forget how to get there momentarily. Wonder if anyone else experiences that.

  5. Difficult to stay focused on conversations sometimes. Someone can be talking to me when I realized I completely blank out and have no idea what they just said. Embarrassing to say the least.