Mold Patients and Doctors Use This Term Regularly with Limited Understanding of Specifics
“Brain Fog” remains a commonly used term by patients and doctors. To find an official definition for the term, I searched through countless medical dictionaries and publications. I was searching for a consensus and understanding but found little success and more questions than answers. Today, I am going try to help readers understand what “Brain Fog” actually means by using with patient-reported specifics and examples of their experiences.
In my search, I did find one vague definition for “Brain Fog” in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary describing it as “a usually temporary state of mental capacity marked by inability to concentrate or to think or reason clearly.”It was funny to find the only marked definition there as many medical dictionaries provided no answers, nor did they provide clear descriptions of the condition. In addition, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by psychiatrists does not have “Brain Fog” listed as a recognized medical condition. As it turns out, Wikipedia (albeit not a standard source for official definitions or facts) provided the clearest explanation I could find that sounded anything like the “brain fog” that mold patients describe experiencing the condition and the doctors that treat them are referring to: “A condition that affects all ages and which is characterized by confusion, decreased clarity of thought, and forgetfulness. It is not regarded as a real condition.”
Symptoms and Fears
Physicians who treat environmental illness and mold patients that have experienced “Brain Fog” describe their symptoms as feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, the inability to focus and comprehend, and lack of mental clarity. These seemingly small disruptions in thinking can divert any action or conversation significantly, especially when in a professional capacity. Whether mold affects a patient as an antigen, allergen, pathogen (fungal sinusitis), or mycotoxin, “Brain Fog” is a common symptom.
It is important to note that neurological and cognitive
symptoms suffered by mold patients are often reported as the “scariest,” regardless of the magnitude of the impact of their daily function.
The fear is rooted in “genuine concern that the symptoms are those of onset of dementia, or neurodegenerative disease.” Although unlikely, in many older patients above 50, the fear of the early onset of Dementia or Alzheimer’s is very real!
Here are some patient-reported descriptions of “Brain Fog”:
- “Foggy,” describing feeling unfocused,” I just can’t think!” or inability to function normally. One patient who home schooled her children described her inability to teach her kids and the guilt of falling behind in their curriculums.
- “Momentarily forgetting basic facts about myself, my life, or the world around me.” This includes forgetting names, favorite memories (movies, actors names, etc.) that you normally would never forget.
- “Forgetting what you’re doing while you are doing it.” Here a patient described driving somewhere they normally go and not remembering how to get back.
- “Placing items in different places than normal and not being able to find them.’’
- “Forgetting how to operate an appliance you use every day.”
- “Forgetting easy words.” A physician described to me that he forgot the word shoe when talking to a patient while suffering from brain fog.
- “Using words in the wrong order.”
- “Forgetting how to spell familiar words to the degree that I have to look them up and still cannot spell them.”
Brain fog can also be accompanied by the following physical symptoms:
- Low energy or fatigue
- Low motivation
- Depression or anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty exercising, dancing, or playing
While I have previously described the unexplained mold illness symptoms of neurological or cognitive disfunction in my recent article: “What Happens When Toxins Get To Your Brain?, brain fog also is described in a variety of chronic medical conditions, some are well defined and others are not. Well understood causes include chemotherapy-induced (Chemo Brain), Brain injuries, Heavy Metal Toxicity, Multiple Sclerosis, Neurodegenerative Disorders, side effects from medications, and others. There are also recognized disease diagnoses that have limited or unknown causes such as Fibromyalgia, Silent Celiac Disease, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Yet another symptom of mold illness, Chronic Fungal Sinusitis in and of itself, can cause brain fog in a variety of ways. Some examples are:
- When the nose is congested, breathing through the mouth results in a lower oxygen intake, and can result in fuzzy thinking.
- Medications used to treat Sinusitis often make patients groggy and thinking disjointed.
- Poor sleep or insomnia leads to the inability to concentrate or to learn and make simple cognitive connections.
- Inflammation can create irritability, low concentration and an inflamed brain.
Further, it turns out the inflammation (caused by the inflammatory response to mold) often causesbrain fog as a symptom. There are numerous diagnosable inflammatory diseases (Rheumatiod Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, MS, etc.) where brain fog is listed as a symptom. For mold sufferers, what is most relevant is that a variety of inflammatory, toxic, and allergic responses to the mold create imbalances with hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrition.
Paying attention to environmental factors that we may have some control of throughout our day can help us be more proactive about modifying our lifestyles and behaviors to improve our wellness and eliminate brain fog.
What Can Be Done?
Brain Fog is a symptom taken seriously by patients because it can mimic symptoms of dementia or neurological diseases. Unfortunately, seeing a neurologist first may take a patient down the road of expensive imaging diagnostics and a variety of medications focused on the symptoms.
A less-travelled path that may be highly productive is to see a physician, integrative or functional medicine, or Naturopathic Doctor that treats environmental illness. These healthcare professionals take more time with patients (often 45 min-1 hour) to listen closely to their symptoms and ask questions about their medical history and environment that can lead to finding the cause of the brain fog and mitigating factors that cause it, without medication that can mask some symptoms or create new symptoms to deal with. Avoiding the debilitating path of seeing a series of doctors and taking a long list of ineffective medications until the cause is addressed can prevent years of needless suffering.
In addition, if your environment is the cause, medication will unlikely be totally effective, because you are returning to the cause or behavior that is causing the symptoms in the first place.
For Mold Sufferers
Here are some tips for alleviating “brain fog” for Mold and Chronic Sinusitis Sufferers:
- CitriDrops Dietary Supplementadded to daily nasal washes and/or ingested by mixing into in a glass of water can provide the body relief from the continuous inhalation of fungi and can address candida or fungal growth in the gut.
- Practicing good mold hygiene in your home by using the EC3 SANI+TIZER Mold Fogger or cleaning with EC3 Mold Solution Concentratecan bring your fungal air counts down dramatically allowing you to rest and sleep in an environment without continuous inhalation of mold.
- Washing clothes and especially linens with EC3 Laundry Additive will remove mold on the things that touch your body and your face and can help reduce mold tracked into your home. This will make your environment and especially your bed less inflammatory, so you can sleep better and longer.
- The addition of a HEPA Air Purifier or EC3 Air Purification Candles where you relax will remove mold and mycotoxins from your immediate air. The less mold you are bringing into your body, the less toxins your body collects and the less it has to fight the invader (mold) to be and stay well.
Perhaps, these descriptions can help provide a clearer understanding of your symptoms and ways it can be addressed without hopelessness or panic.
Please feel free to comment, ask questions, or tell your story.