NB: This is the first in a four-post series about how to combat “fibro fog” and improve cognitive function. This post examines fibro fog in its various manifestations and examines some possible causes. It also provides an overview of a three-phased approach to combating fibro fog that the remaining posts in the series will examine in more detail. Post #2 will look at improving sleep; post #3 outlines strategies to keep your brain challenged and healthy; and post #4 examines various coping mechanisms to deal with the fibro-fog effects that can’t be eliminated by the first two phases.
Fibromyalgia sufferers know all too well the agony the condition can cause — debilitating pain, sleepless nights, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. But of all the myriad, complex symptoms of fibromyalgia, probably the most frightening to many of us is the amusingly-named, but not so funny, “fibro fog.” Fortunately, there are many things we can do to combat fibro fog, if not outright eliminate it from our lives altogether.
What Is Fibro Fog, and What Causes It?
Before we examine the strategies to combat fibro fog, however, let’s take a short look at what it is and what may cause it.
Briefly, fibro fog can be used to describe just about any cognitive impairment that we might experience with fibromyalgia. Some common manifestations of this experience are:
- Forgetting the right “word”
- Misnaming common objects
- Losing track of our thoughts as we’re speaking
- Forgetting where commonly used items are
- Struggling with new information
- Difficulty retaining learned information
There are many variations on fibro fog, of course, because we all experience it in slightly different ways. However, despite the funny name, it’s not at all funny to suddenly forget a child’s name, or struggle with the appropriate word to describe an object we use every day. It’s downright frightening!
Fortunately, we know that this is not a psychological problem, nor is it a symptom (necessarily) of Alzheimers. (However, if you have reason to suspect it may be Alzheimers, it would be worthwhile to see a doctor about diagnostic tests to rule out this more serious condition.)
Most researchers attribute fibro fog to another of the most common fibro symptoms: sleep disturbance. In short, many believer that it’s our lack of high-quality, consistent sleep that leads us to become perpetually sleep—deprived, and it’s that sleep-deprivation in turn that causes the cognitive problems.
An Overview of the Three-Phase Approach to Combating Fibro Fog
Whether it’s lack of sleep alone or in combination with other factors operating in the fibromyalgia patient, there are specific strategies you can undertake today to combat fibro fog and get your brain back in working order. I recommend the following three-phased approach that focuses first on your sleep issues, and then on keeping the brain active and engaged.
In Phase One, we’ll look at what many believe to be the root cause of fibro fog: poor quality of sleep. I’ll suggest some strategies to improve both the quality and length of your nightly rest and suggest other resources you can explore for further assistance.
In Phase Two, I’ll outline several strategies you can adopt to keep your brain challenged and healthy. Exercising the “mental muscle” is crucial to keeping those brain neurons firing on “all four cylinders” so to speak; engaging in challenging mental activities can boost your cognitive function in significant and noticeable ways.
Finally, Phase Three consists of several tricks, tips, and mechanisms that help fibromyalgia patients cope with the effects of fibro fog that can’t be eliminated using the activities in the first two phases.