Fibro fog and ME/CFS brain fog

- By


Cognitive dysfunction also called fibro fog or brain fog is one of the most common complaints of people with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). For many individuals with these conditions, it can be severe and may even have as huge impact on their lives as pain or fatigue. In fact, some people say fibro fog is more of a disability than their physical signs.


Although we don’t know precisely what’s behind our cognitive complications, researchers are learning more about them all the time.

One study proposed that people with both FMS and ME/CFS had more cognitive impairment than those with ME/CFS alone. The ability to remember what is heard seemed to be worse in those with advanced pain. Problems with optical perception, meanwhile, were linked to severe cases of ME/CFS without overlapping FMS.

Another study on these conditions together found a connection between the brain’s capability to tune out pain (pain inhibition) and its capability to tune out other extraneous stimuli (cognitive inhibition.) Pain inhibition is a well-known feature of FMS. Reduced cognitive inhibition could mean, for example, that you can’t follow a conversation while the TV is on because your brain can’t filter out the background sound. Researchers also noted that advanced self-reported pain is linked to slower response times in ME/CFS-only.

One research team explored the connection between cognitive ability and central sensitization, an overly sensitive central nervous system, which is believed to be an important basic feature of FMS, ME/CFS, and other related conditions.

They found that cognitive impairment seemed to be linked to:

  • Sensitization
  • Impaired pain processing
  • Hyperalgesia (amplified pain)
  • Lower health-related quality of natural life

Several people with these conditions complain that they have trouble coming up with words. One study revealed that people with FMS were slower at word recall than other people with memory deficits and also had deficits in more areas of cognitive measurement.

Remembering what we listen to is also problematic for many with these conditions and at least one study backs this up. Researchers found damage in how auditory information is processed in the brains of people with FMS. New research is published regularly. As we study more, we may improve treatments aimed specifically at our cognitive dysfunction.

Causes of Brain Fog or Fibro Fog

We don’t yet know precisely what causes cognitive dysfunction in these conditions, but we have a lot of theories about likely contributing factors, including:

  • Sleep that isn’t restful or restorative
  • Abnormal blood flow to some parts of the brain
  • Abnormal connectivity patterns between diverse regions of the brain
  • Abnormal function of certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters)
  • Early aging of the brain
  • Mental distraction due to agony
  • Overexertion in ME/CFS as a result of post-exertional malaise

In FMS, fibro fog usually is worse when pain is worse. In both FMS and ME/CFS, it can be exacerbated when you’re specially fatigued, anxious, under pressure, or dealing with sensory overload.

Depression, which is common in FMS and ME/CFS, is also associated with cognitive dysfunction. Some studies, however, indicate that the severity of brain fog in these conditions is not related to signs of depression.

A lot of common medicines for FMS and ME/CFS can contribute to brain fog as well.

Learning Disorders

Thus far, we don’t have evidence that our brain fog comes from known learning disorders. However, our difficulties are similar to those associated with disorders such as dyslexia (reading problems), dysphasia (speaking problems), and dyscalculia (math/time/spatial problems).

If you think you could have a familiar learning disorder, consult your doctor. A diagnosis could benefit you get rational accommodation at work or strengthen a disability benefits claim. Appropriate treatment could help you function better, as well.

Also Read:
> > 25 Unexpected Side Effects of “Fibro Fog”
> > How to describe “Fibro fog” to Someone Who doesn’t understand
> > Memory loss, cognitive difficulties, Fibro fog……. Is it a real issue?

Symptoms of Brain Fog/Fibro Fog

Symptoms of brain fog can range from mild to severe. They commonly differ from day to day and not everyone has all of them. Symptoms can include:

Word use and recall: Trouble recalling known words, use of incorrect words, slow recollection of names for people and things

Short-term (“working”) memory problems: Amnesia, inability to remember what’s read or heard, forgetting what you were doing, losing train of thought

Directional disorientation: Suddenly not identifying familiar environments, easily becoming lost, and having trouble recalling how to get somewhere

Multitasking difficulties: Inability to pay attention to more than one thing, poor memory of original task when distracted

Confusion and trouble concentrating: Difficulty with processing information, being effortlessly distracted, trouble learning new information

Math/number difficulties: Difficulty performing simple math, remembering classifications, transposing numbers, trouble remembering numbers and dates

Some people may also have other types of cognitive dysfunction, too.

Treatments of Brain Fog/Fibro Fog

For some people, brain fog resolves with effective treatment for pain or sleep complications. However, not everyone can find effective treatments, which leaves many of us trying to cope with this symptoms.

Supplements are a common choice. While we don’t have a lot of proof to support their effectiveness, some doctors and people with these conditions say they’ve seen supplements aid with cognitive function. Common brain-fog supplements include:

Some doctors recommend nutritional changes to include brain-friendly foods, some of which are natural sources of the supplements listed above. Some of these foods are:

  • Fish (omega-3)
  • Canola or walnut oil (omega-3)
  • Eggs (choline)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Carbohydrates

Some FMS research indicate that moderate exercise can help improve cognitive function as well. Exercise is problematic for these patients, so be sure you know the right way to begin with exercise.

Cognitive Training

Researchers are learning more about the brain and how it works. And new information could support us understand brain fog. Research on aging brains and some degenerative brain conditions shows that cognitive training can slow, halt, or occasionally even reverse cognitive dysfunction.

Some doctors use cognitive training programs which frequently consist of software that you use at home. Video game companies and websites offer games they claim can improve cognitive function.

While particular games haven’t been assessed for this capability, some evidence does suggest that computer-generated games improve memory and critical thinking abilities. Because this is an emerging area of science, we will probably learn more about cognition and cognitive training in the future.

Reference: Web Md

For support and Discussion join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness”

disability sticker
Disability Invisible illness awareness BUMPER STICKER fibromyalgia – stop other judging you.

Disability Invisible illess awareness BUMPER STICKER fibromyalgia – stop ther judging you. Click Here to ge this

Leave Your Comment