While recovering from COVID-19, you may experience cognitive impairment, also known as “brain fog.” These terms describe problems with cognition or thinking, such as trouble remembering things, focusing and concentrating, problem-solving, planning or thinking quickly. Brain fog is one of the most common Post-COVID symptoms.

Possible Causes

There are several reasons why people who had COVID-19 might experience difficulties with their memory and thinking skills. These include fatigue, stress and anxiety, difficulty sleeping, brain inflammation, and, in a smaller portion of the population, stroke. Speak with a member of our interdisciplinary healthcare team about why you may be experiencing lingering brain fog after a COVID-19 infection.

What does brain fog look like in everyday life?

Memory

If your memory is affected, you may find it difficult to hold information in your head and to make decisions based on that information. You may struggle to recall something that has happened, or forget to take medication on time.

Attention and concentration

Problems with attention and concentration can make it hard to focus and ignore distractions. It may be difficult to find the can opener in the cluttered utensil drawer, help your child with homework, hold a conversation with the TV on or keep up with fast-paced discussions.

Executive functions

Executive functions are the mental processes that allow you to solve problems, make decisions, plan ahead and see tasks through to completion.

For example, executive functioning is needed to deal with problems, organize a holiday, get the car fixed or find a new job or a new place to live.

People with executive functioning problems often seem to be disorganized, impulsive, and not thinking things through. They may find it difficult to get going on tasks, or start a task but not see it through, perhaps getting distracted by something irrelevant and not noticing that they’ve drifted off-task.

Management

There are several ways to manage Post-COVID brain fog and lessen your frustration and the burden it has on your life. Some strategies include:

Portrait of an upset businessman at desk in office. Businessman being depressed by working in office. Young stressed business man feeling strain in eyes after working for long hours on computer.
  • Reducing distractions while concentrating
  • Prioritizing more difficult tasks earlier in the day when you’re less fatigued
  • Setting reminders on your phone calendar to alert you to do big and small things (including when to eat!)
  • Setting routines so you don’t have to waste mental energy on remembering to do things

Speak with a member of our integrated healthcare team about specific strategies to help you manage brain fog.

When should I speak to a
health care professional?

Speaking to a healthcare professional experienced in Post-COVID to help diagnose and manage brain fog is important if the above strategies don’t help. We can discuss whether referral to an occupational therapist or psychologist for cognitive rehabilitation may be the best next step.