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Brain Fog: What Happens If You Ignore It

Have you ever had one of those days when you can’t remember where you left your keys, or you walk into a room and forget why you’re there, or you’re just finding it tough to concentrate at your work or even at your favorite TV show? Well, you’re not losing your marbles. You might just be dealing with something called ‘brain fog’.

So, what’s this all about? In simple terms, brain fog is when you feel like you can’t think clearly or focus. It’s not a disease, but more like a sign from your body. It’s your body’s way of saying, ‘Hey, something’s off here.’

What is Brain Fog?

So, what is brain fog? And what does brain fog feel like? Brain fog feels like it takes hours to complete a 10-minute task or that you’re struggling to listen and understand what is being said in a meeting. Maybe you walk into a room and can’t remember why you are there. Or, you constantly second-guess yourself about locking the door or turning off the stove because you truly can’t remember if you did.

That’s what people usually describe as having ‘brain fog.’ It’s not a medical term you’d find in an anatomy textbook, but anyone who’s experienced it knows exactly what it means. You may find it hard to focus, keep things in memory, and be less sharp in processing information.

Remember, brain fog isn’t a medical condition itself, but rather a symptom that signals underlying issues. It’s an umbrella term that describes various symptoms of cognitive dysfunction. And symptoms vary from person to person. However, many people experiencing brain fog have a general feeling of disorientation in addition to the following brain fog symptoms:

  • Lack of energy or fatigue, including chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Trouble remembering information
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Confusion of feeling disoriented
  • Inability to find words
  • Trouble grasping concepts or learning compared with before
  • You’re easily pulled off task or distracted

But why is this happening and why do you feel this way?

You might brush off brain fog when it happens just one time—maybe you didn’t sleep well, or you’re under a lot of stress. What many people don’t know is that brain fog can often be a sign of neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation is like a small alarm bell in your brain. It occurs when your brain’s defense system (the immune system) knows something is wrong. Think of neuroinflammation as your brain’s way of fighting back when something’s not right, like an injury or an infection. When it spots something it thinks could be a threat—like toxins, an infection, or just something out of the ordinary—it goes into action mode.

This normally involves your microglia and macrophages, which are nerve cells in your brain. Let’s call them M1 and M2. They are like the brain’s guards that responds to the alarm. M1 is inflammatory and neurotoxic and M2 releases anti-inflammatory mediators and is neuroprotective.

M1 Cells (Pro-inflammatory)

When the alarm goes off, M1 cells spring into action as the front-line soldiers. They run towards the problem and cause inflammation. This inflammation is like a big, red, noisy alarm that draws other cells over to help deal with what caused the alarm to go off initially. This helps to defend the brain against the bad stuff but can also cause damage if it goes on for too long.

M2 Cells (Anti-inflammatory)

M2 cells are like the medics. Once the M1 cells (Attack dogs) have dealt with the initial problem, M2 cells help to calm everything down. They dampen the inflammation and start the repair process if there was any damage.

When your brain is in the middle of this battle, especially if it goes on for too long, it can make you feel “fuzzy.” This fuzziness or feeling out of sorts happens because the fight (inflammation) and the signals being sent out can affect how well your brain cells communicate with each other. It can make it hard for you to think clearly, concentrate, or remember things. It’s like trying to have a phone conversation during a loud concert—you know the phone is working, and someone is talking, but it’s tough to make out the words.

So, when you experience that brain fog, it’s often because something is triggering your brain’s defense system, like drinking too much alcohol, lack of sleep, or even stress (we’ll talk more about these later). Your brain goes into protection mode to fight off these triggers, which is good! But, the process can leave you feeling less than sharp. Now, if your brain has to deal with these triggers constantly, day in and day out, the defense system doesn’t get a break. It’s like your brain is stuck in a loop of sounding the alarm and trying to fight off invaders non-stop. This can lead to the fog hanging around longer and even getting worse.

What Happens if We Ignore Brain Fog?

And, if we don’t address brain fog and its neuroinflammation, it won’t just go away. Over time, it can become a chronic issue, leading to the death of neurons. This can set the stage for serious brain problems, like dementia and Alzheimer’s .


Dementia is a broader term for symptoms related to a decline in brain power that impacts our daily lives. Picture it like an umbrella term since it encompasses diverse medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, the most frequent cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the slow thief of memory that eventually interferes with our ability to engage in simple conversations or react to our surroundings.

Let’s talk about how this happens.

Remember, neuroinflammation is a fire alarm in your brain. Normally, the brain’s immune cells, your m1 and m2, help with brain maintenance. But, the situation changes in the of chronic inflammation. Like a false fire alarm, these microglia cells become overactive. So, the microglia start causing more harm than good. They can hurt the neurons in two significant ways – either directly by releasing harmful, toxic substances that can cause death of neurons or indirectly by messing up the brain’s care and repair routine.

Direct harm: Inflammatory substances can harm neurons directly, initiating cell death.

Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) breach: Chronic inflammation can weaken the BBB, allowing harmful substances and immune cells to sneak into the brain and cause damage.

Broken Connections: Inflammation can mess up the connections between neurons, affecting their communication, which is a marker for cognitive decline occurring in Alzheimer’s disease.

Disruption in Brain Nourishment: The inflamed environment may hinder the supply of neuron nourishing factors needed for their survival and repair, leading to cell death.

Increased Toxicity: Inflammation increases the toxicity of harmful elements in Alzheimer’s disease, such as tau and amyloid-beta, resulting in neuron damage.

This chronic inflammation in the brain acts as a domino effect. This decline is easily noticed in everyday functions like memory, thinking, and reasoning – all hallmarks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chronic Pain Syndromes

Inflammation in the brain can also cause something called chronic pain syndrome.

Just like how brain inflammation can disrupt memory and thinking, this overactive immune response can also mess with the nerves linked to feeling pain. Imagine a guitar string that’s too tight; it’s likely to make a much louder sound. Similarly, when your brain’s immune response goes overboard, it can tighten the ‘strings’ of your nerves, making them more sensitive. That means feelings of pain can be turned up like a volume dial set too high, resulting in pain that just won’t quit.

This is where chronic pain syndrome comes into play. It’s like a switch in your body that should flip off once an injury heals, but instead, it gets stuck in the ‘on’ position because the brain and nerves are a little out of whack. So you feel pain longer and more intensely than usual, which can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting.

Wrapping It Up

Dealing with brain fog can feel a bit like you’re trying to see through a misty window. It’s frustrating, I know. You’re aiming to think clearly and get things done, but somehow, everything feels a little bit out of reach. Remember, experiencing this doesn’t mean you’re not smart or capable. It’s just a sign that something is going on in your body.

The good news? You have more control over this foggy feeling than you might think. By following the simple steps I mentioned, you can find your way out of the fog. These might sound like small steps, but trust me, they can lead to big changes in how clear and sharp you feel each day.

Hi! I’m Dr. E, The NP with a PHD. Several years ago, my wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and the only options given to us were heavy duty medications.

We KNEW there had to be a better way. After a long search, we discovered functional medicine.

With functional medicine we found alternative ways we were able to manage her disease and get her back to feeling like her old self.

We discovered that this way of life not only helps people with various issues, including autoimmune, chronic issues and “I-don’t-feel-good-itis.”

Functional medicine drastically changed our lives and using it I developed The KNEW Method to help others who are suffering or not feeling optimal.

Let’s work together to get you to feeling like your old self again.

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You KNOW That There Is Something More…

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If you are suffering from one (or more) of these issues – chronic pain, high blood pressure, mental fog, fatigue, low energy, poor sleep, lack of focus, loss of libido, aches, pains, or general “I-don’t-feel-good-itis”… YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE