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What Is Brain Fog? | Symptoms and Treatment

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young female patient holding her head because of brain fog symptoms

Do you ever struggle to concentrate, forget daily tasks, or feel mentally drained? If so, you’re not alone. Many individuals face these same symptoms, often called “brain fog”.

But what exactly is brain fog? What do people mean when they talk about it? And what could these symptoms reveal about your health? For answers, Parker Performance Institute Nurse Practitioner Kelly Fox provides her professional feedback.

Q: Can you explain what brain fog is and how it manifests in individuals? What are the common symptoms that patients may experience?

A: Brain fog is having a lack of mental clarity. It is characterized by confusion, lack of focus, forgetfulness, word searching, etc.

Q: From a functional medicine perspective, what are the potential hormone imbalances or disruptions that could contribute to brain fog?

A: Brain fog is often a symptom of many different interconnected conditions, such as a hormone imbalance that leads to a lack of sleep. Both conditions can have a compounding effect on brain fog. Additionally, a lack of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone can cause brain fog from a primary and secondary perspective.

Q: How does physical and emotional stress impact brain fog? Are there specific stress-related factors that can exacerbate brain fog symptoms?

A: Acute or chronic stress can play a role in brain fog by producing too much or too little hormones. Hormones are needed to manage stress in a productive way that promotes mental clarity and focus. DHEA, pregnenolone, and cortisol all play a role in balancing the body’s stress response. Acute or chronic stress can also adversely affect your male/female hormones, thyroid hormones, blood sugar, blood pressure, and catecholamines, including dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

Q: In your experience, what are the typical lifestyle factors that may contribute to or worsen brain fog? How do diet, sleep patterns, and exercise habits play a role in managing brain fog?

A: Adequate quality sleep, a whole food diet, regular cardio and resistance exercise, stress management through meditation or prayer, and socializing can all benefit brain fog.

Q: What are some common underlying medical conditions or chronic illnesses associated with brain fog? How do these conditions interact with hormone imbalances to cause cognitive symptoms?

A: Inflammatory Bowel Disease, depression, anxiety, adrenal insufficiency, insomnia, and autoimmune disorders can all compound hormone imbalances that can worsen cognitive symptoms.

Q: From a treatment standpoint, what are some of the approaches Parker Performance Institute uses to address brain fog? Are there specific dietary recommendations or nutritional supplements that can support cognitive function and address hormone imbalances?

A: At Parker Performance Institute, we do functional tests, bloodwork, and a thorough review of your history, looking at lifestyle, diet, sleep, stress, psychological/social support, and metabolic function so we can balance hormonal deficiencies or excesses in the body.

Q: How do you assess and diagnose hormone-related brain fog in patients? Are there specific lab tests or biomarkers that you typically analyze to identify potential hormone imbalances contributing to cognitive symptoms?

A: We take a thorough medical and functional history and individualize testing according to a patient’s symptoms, whether it be blood testing or urine testing, to look at the most accurate hormone levels such as cortisol, estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, pregnenolone, DHEA-S, and others to get an accurate picture of hormone status.

Q: Can you share some success stories or case studies where addressing hormone imbalances has resulted in significant improvements in brain fog for your patients? What were the key interventions that led to positive outcomes?

A: Over the years, patients have seen significant improvements from addressing adrenal insufficiency and/or adrenal fatigue, a process that takes three to 18 months but helps resolve fatigue, brain fog, and low motivation. From a male/female hormone perspective, we have helped patients with low energy, low motivation, insomnia, low sex drive (libido), and low mood. Key interventions that helped lead to positive outcomes for our patients include supplementing with adaptogenic herbs, HRT, TRT, amino acid support, stress management, and educating patients on quality sleep habits.

Q: What advice do you often give to patients experiencing brain fog, particularly related to hormone imbalances? Are there any self-care practices or daily habits that you emphasize for managing cognitive symptoms?

A: First, I recommend that you come see us at Parker Performance Institute. We really can help. Also, I recommend incorporating the following into your daily routine:

  • Stress reduction/management
  • Quality sleep of at least 8 hours
  • Whole food nutrition
  • Restorative exercises such as Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong

Q: How do you collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as endocrinologists or nutritionists, to provide comprehensive care for patients dealing with brain fog related to hormone imbalances? 

A: We have a Ph.D. functional nutritionist that we collaborate with for patients who need this intervention, and we work with other disciplines such as neurology, massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopaths, chiropractors, and any other discipline that needs help with a patient having brain fog, TBI, hormone imbalances, fatigue, or gut issues.

At Parker Performance Institute, we understand how brain fog can negatively affect your ability to function and enjoy a quality life. That’s why we offer a range of services to help address the underlying causes of your brain fog symptoms, such as hormone imbalances and other health-related conditions.

If you’re tired of struggling with brain fog, we’re here to help guide you with effective treatment strategies and a plan that is uniquely tailored to your situation.

Schedule an appointment with us today to take the first step toward your well-being.


About the Author: Kelly Fox is a Family Nurse Practitioner with 24 years of experience in family medicine, integrative and functional medicine, hormone replacement therapy, and preventive medicine. She has practiced all over the DFW metroplex but has been in the Denton area in recent years. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and has taken many classes and attended many conferences relating to Integrative and Functional Medicine over the last 14 years.