02-27-2014, 09:15 PM   #1
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Brain fog tips?

When I'm flaring I tend to have lots of days when I just can't concentrate. It can be really frustrating when I'm trying to do school work, as it takes me three times as long and I tend to do worse than I would like. I have been checked out by my doctor, and there are no specific nutritional deficiencies causing it. I'm a chemistry major in university and today I couldn't do math to save my life. My concentration and thought processing are terrible!

Do you have any tips that have helped you to concentrate when you're fuzzy headed?
02-27-2014, 09:42 PM   #2
nogutsnoglory's Avatar
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Not too much helps but cold fresh air and beverages helps me with fatigue and brain fog a bit.
02-27-2014, 11:02 PM   #3
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I think that my brain fog is mainly attributed to medication side effects and dehydration. Unfortunately, I can't do anything about the side effects, but I do drink a lot of liquids and it helps a bit. Also, getting adequate sleep can help some.
Meds that failed me: Remicade, Humira, Cimzia, Entocort.

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02-27-2014, 11:23 PM   #4
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Location: Florida
Drink a lot of water and take a LOT of notes. I'm also in college and I find that writing things down over and over helps commit it to memory and to go back over your work multiple times. A lot of colleges have a department for students with special needs and usually they can arrange for things like extra time on tests if you need. I'd definitely look into that since it helped me a ton.
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02-28-2014, 12:11 PM   #5
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The disabilities center at my university is honestly not very good, so I don't deal with them unless I have to. Fortunately I'm taking most of my classes online this semester since I'm dealing with changing medicines.
02-28-2014, 10:12 PM   #6
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Brain fog is the worst. I have it very often.

Making tons of notes is useful. Notes, to-do lists, alarms - whatever you need to make sure things get done. Keeping a notebook with your lists and reminders would be helpful… if you remember to check it.

When I'm in the process of doing something, I find that taking frequent, short breaks helps me stay focused. If I notice I'm losing my concentration, I'll switch to another task for a bit, then switch back. At work, I keep a drink in the break room and anytime I start losing track of what I'm doing or getting overwhelmed, I just run back and take a drink. The small distraction usually sets me back on track. When I worked as a paralegal, I would just give myself a short break of a different kind - occasionally allowing myself five minutes on the forum or Facebook, stepping outside, or getting a snack all helped.

Like NGNG, I find fresh air and certain beverages to be useful. Caffeine can keep me on track, but if it bothers your stomach it's not worth it!

Also, when studying, try to treat yourself every once in a while. Finish reading a chapter? Awesome, you get a snack. Finish writing a page of a report? Great, step outside for a minute. This will break things up so you don't feel as if you have to concentrate for such a long time. It still takes longer than it otherwise would, but as long as you can get it done, you're making progress! It's still more effective than completely spacing out all the time!

The disability services at your school can be a help even if they are a hassle to deal with. At the very least, e-mail your professors and tell them what's going on. Provide a doctor's note directly to them if necessary to gain yourself a little leniency and understanding.

I hope things get better for you!

Diagnosed with Crohn's disease 12/6/08.
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03-01-2014, 02:15 AM   #7
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I do university study by distance education so I make my own time to study as I work full time. Suffering cramps and fatigue badly at the moment. Since all my materials are on my desk and no need to travel to class- I tend to highlight text like crazy to stay focussed- and have pillows on the floor and just slide off for very regular power naps. Concentration span when feeling good is 2-3 hrs of study, right now 10-15minutes before I haven't a clue what I've read. Yep, power naps and very frequent toilet breaks are my coping strategy.
03-01-2014, 06:45 AM   #8
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Brain fog is frustrating. !!!! I have days I will go to the shops and stand in an aisle and wonder why I went there and what for.... Stuff that on good days takes 2 minutes can take hours on foggy day. I find as the others have said water helps lots but I know it's not good for us but coffee gives me a few faster thoughts on bad days.
03-03-2014, 08:40 PM   #9
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I agree with Sarah that periodic snacks held our blood sugar at a good level. Even if we aren't diabetic we certainly have ups and downs throughout the day. Of course a candy bar won't help but a good crohn's safe snsbks can be helpful.
03-04-2014, 09:52 PM   #10
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My biggest brain off issue is memory: I use apps for everything to help -- I let my smart phone be smart for me! I use color codes categories and list everything out in my calendar for each day, in detail, and share it with my family so they can help to remind me. I have a grocery list app that categorizes my list automatically. I use my voice recorder app to make notes throughout my day I will need to remember later, and transcribe them to to do lists or whatever's a appropriate later. A "reminders" app for recurring things, like taking my pills, my weekly injections, to check to brownies in the oven, feed the dog, whatever. I use a note app to take notes when at a drs appt, during important convos with my family. Sounds like a lot of work but I have an iPhone and use Siri for 90% of that which makes it pretty much effortless and it became part of my routine very easily. (For all the other brain fog symptoms, I just try to laugh at myself with others, and I use lots of word retrieval/word describing strategies, and use tons of post it's/white boards all around the house. I also try to keep my family updated and educated)


Crohn's :: 2007

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01-17-2018, 10:03 PM   #11
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: North Miami Beach, Florida
I was diagnosed with Crohn's 14 years ago and suffered from significant and worsening brain fog symptoms for the past 7 years or so. A couple of years ago I started an experimentation process during which I tinkered with every dietary variable I could think of, and experimented with literally dozens of supplements to try to alleviate this issue, and the thing that has helped me the most has been reducing my fat intake.

I was eating a relatively high fat diet (I regularly added oils after cooking, consumed generous helpings of high fat snacks almost daily, and my #1 protein of choice was the highest fat salmon I could find), and a few months ago when I turned my attention on the fat variable, and decided to cut fat containing foods to assess how it might affect my brain fog, the results were dramatically good. Quite simply, I find the lifting of the cloud on my thinking, memory etc to vary directly with limiting the fat in my diet. I am a different person now. And while I imagine most people would not characterize their diet as being high fat necessarily, I believe this might help those of us on a "normal" fat diet too. I now eat a low fat diet, as low as I can go really, and when I deviate, I feel it, I find that to that degree the fog comes back.

After my discovery I found an article that might very well contain the scientific reason/support for it. Since I'm new to the forum and haven't yet made 10 posts it's not allowing me to post the direct link but Google "zombie-diet-way-you-eat-causing-you-lose-brain-cells", it's an article by Shape magazine from 11/30/2015 if you want to see it. And the article links to a study "High-fat diet prompts immune cells to start eating connections between neurons". While the article isn't specifically about IBD it makes sense that the impaired ability to properly digest/absorb fat and the inflammation might cause the exacerbation of what it's discussing (and the study specifically references chronic inflammation as the underlying culprit).

I would note that despite that high fat diet I used to consume (for several years, I think the genesis of it was just the idea/fear of not consuming enough calories to sustain/increase my weight), and the normal fat diet I was on before that since my diagnosis (at age 16, I'm now 29), none of that fat was sticking around, I've always been somewhere on the moderately underweight (when not flaring)-severely underweight (when flaring) spectrum.

Best of luck to all
01-18-2018, 10:04 PM   #12
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I have a hard time distinguishing between Crohn's brain fog and middle age brain fog.
01-23-2018, 02:30 AM   #13
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Location: San Diego, California
I would say #1 lifter of brain fog is a regular sleep pattern with 7-8 hours, and moderate to strenuous exercise (walking wont do it). Balanced diet, fulfilling work, and a hobby or special interest to persue. Caffeine, but not over 100mgs per day and not after 5 pm. I like iced tea for mental clarity with relaxation, much diff than coffee which I can’t tolerate.

Also, make sure your levels are checked for everything, but esp hemoglobin, iron, ferritin, b12, testosterone and zinc if male, albumin, etc.
01-23-2018, 10:29 AM   #14
Join Date: Apr 2013
There are a couple of other things that might contribute to fatigue and brain fog (though some of this might be a little outside of mainstream medicine, right now).

1. Mast cell activity and histamine - I think there are some papers showing that Crohn's patients have high levels of mast cell activity. Histamine release might cause flushing, stomach acid, racing heart and that foggy feeling (?).

2. Watch for an intolerance of gluten, casein and other troublesome foods. I don't think these things cause IBD, but long term GI problems lead to disrupted relationship between your immune system and intestinal contents. If I accidentally eat a little wheat, my first sympoms are fatigue, fog and a sort of depressed feeling (intestinal issues start a day later).

3. Inflammatory cytokines (from periphery) trigger changes in your brain that induce a depression-like state (if I understand this correctly). It might be an evolutionary thing - sickness behavior makes you want to crawl into bed and avoid everything when your sick.

Last edited by SN8888; 01-23-2018 at 11:41 AM.
02-22-2018, 05:06 PM   #15
Lynda Lynda
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Whoa. There is "brain fog" with IBD ! I already have other medications that cause brain fog, memory problems and tiredness. I honestly thought some of this "brain fog" was due to me getting older. Yikes. No wonder I had to, at one time, take notes while reading a book. But my Physicians Assistant DID just tell me to drink 1/2 my weight in water each day ( sigh. )
03-01-2018, 01:11 PM   #16
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Tampa, Florida
I am a different person now. And while I imagine most people would not characterize their diet as being high fat necessarily, I believe this might help those of us on a "normal" fat diet too. I now eat a low fat diet, as low as I can go really, and when I deviate, I feel it, I find that to that degree the fog comes back.

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