Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Brain Fog
Howdy everyone! Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but I’ve been involved in so many projects. I also went through a week of brain fog shortly after my most recent post.
What is brain fog? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a form of mental confusion that, in this case, is related to hypothyroidism. We all have days where we can’t seem to remember things or just have those little “senior moments”, but brain fog is a bit more pervasive and can be quite distressing at work, during projects, while trying to write, or when you’re just busy with life.
I would characterize brain fog as general confusion touching nearly everything I’m doing (or trying to do). I feel “out of it”, disoriented, not fully conscious, and I can’t concentrate. I have a very difficult time trying to think of the correct words. I get to the word, and it just floats away. This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago, after my last post. I couldn’t write because I couldn’t think straight for about a week.
I eventually get back to the words I’m trying to find, but I have to concentrate too hard at a time when concentration is just plain difficult. I feel lethargic and get increasingly uninterested in or frustrated by my task. This is especially irritating when I’m trying to work.
Whenever possible at these times, I try to find something fairly mindless to do – things I have done so much, they are automatic and don’t require a lot of thought – video games, for example. It may sound funny, but they actually help a lot because I can regain focus and work to concentrate on something unimportant until the fog lifts.
Creative tasks also help. I did a lot of sewing that week. It requires concentration and focus, but not the same kind as my writing and other work tasks (like my former job as an accounts payable clerk). I could have also fallen back on my crochet work – I have a huge waffle-weave crochet blanket that I occasionally work on. It’s a good thing to pull out and work on when I’m in the fog. It’s non-invasive to my brain, and I feel like I’m at least accomplishing something. Plus I can watch TV or listen to an audiobook at the same time. Reading a book during a period of brain fog is iffy for me. I end up reading passages several times over to comprehend/remember what I read, though Douglas Adams is a good choice.
The Link Between Hypothyroidism and Brain Fog
So, why does hypothyroidism cause brain fog? The simple answer is that your brain requires thyroid hormone, just like the rest of your body, in order to function properly. Remember when I said that one of the drawbacks of getting all of your thyroid hormone from medication is that your body cannot adjust to what it needs, particularly in times of stress or trauma? Because of this, brain fog is something to pay attention to.
If my brain fog hung around too long, I’d go straight to my doctor to have my thyroid hormone levels checked. Likely, other symptoms would be manifesting themselves as well, but brain fog is as good a metric as any for potential problems. It does not necessarily indicate a big problem. Even when my medication is stable, I still get it from time to time.
Taking Care of Yourself
As with any other symptom of hypothyroidism, it is the severity and continuation of symptoms that should raise your alarm. Anything going on that makes you feel particularly uncomfortable should be discussed with your physician or endocrine specialist. Certain thyroid medications may work better for you than others like natural dessicated thyroid medicine vs. synthetic or a time-release formula vs. a generic.
It is also important to remember that thyroid problems tend to be co-morbid with other conditions like diabetes, Celiac disease (gluten allergy), rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, and auto-immune diseases, including lupus and multiple sclerosis. Staying on top of your health, getting your thyroid hormone level tested regularly, and paying attention to your body and your symptoms are your most important weapons against complications from hypothyroidism.
Remember: YOU are in control of your body, your symptoms, and your comfort level with them.
Stay healthy and safe!