Brain Fog Causes In Fibromyalgia [10 Tips To Manage It]

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If you find yourself searching for the name of someone you know well, or you just can’t remember where you put your keys, don’t worry it’s just your fibromyalgia brain fog kicking in.

Along with pain, brain fog or ‘fibro fog’ as it is known is a common and often frustrating symptom for those with this condition.  For many sufferers of fibromyalgia they report that brain fog can be severe and have a huge effect on their daily lives, some saying they find it even more debilitating than their pain symptoms.

And it is no wonder as fibro fog symptoms can leave you with the following:

  • Issues with short term memory loss
  • An inability to retain new information
  • Lack of being able to focus and becoming easily distracted
  • Losing items completely and misplacing others
  • Forgetting arrangements you made previously
  • Difficulty remembering words and names of people and objects you already know
  • Difficulty forming sentences and finding the right word
  • Inability to follow along with a conversation
  • Slurring or slow speech
  • Stammering and stuttering
  • Transposing numbers and words when writing or speaking


What Does Fibromyalgia Fog Feel Like?

For each individual fibromyalgia sufferer, brain fog can be experienced differently and to a greater or lesser degree.

As a normal healthy person you can experience the feeling of having a word ‘ right on the tip of your tongue’ but you just can’t say it. And normally after a few seconds of struggle the word eventually pops out. However, for those with fibromyalgia, they simply cannot recall the word at all. Or they may be talking and suddenly mid sentence forget what it was they were talking about.

Fibro fog can be completely disorientating and come on suddenly. It becomes difficult to connect thoughts and your brain feels as if it is stuffed full of pink cotton candy. Some people also have slurred speech and may sound as if they are drunk even though they haven’t touched a drop of alcohol.

Brain Fog Causes In Fibromyalgia

You may struggle to remember where you are, or why you are there. And if you are supposed to be going somewhere you can’t for the life of you remember why you are going there or what you are supposed to be doing once you actually arrive there (if you ever do). 

Forgetfulness is another common symptom, an example of which is going upstairs for something, only to get to the top of the stairs and forget what you went up there for. Or misplacing everyday items like keys and your phone because you mistakenly put them in the fridge. And annoyingly, this type of frustrating incident can happen all too often making daily life difficult to navigate.

While all of this makes carrying out everyday tasks more difficult. Many tasks can also take you so much longer to complete due to an uncontrollable lack of focus and concentration.

Frustratingly, even although for you these cognitive symptoms are very real they are not visible and  there are no tests to measure the degree of fibro fog you are experiencing. 


3 Researched Causes Of Fibro Fog

cognitive symptoms of fibromyalgia

Unfortunately there is no definitive research giving a single brain fog cause in fibromyalgia, however some studies do show possible reasons.

1.In this study it was shown that people experiencing pain found it difficult to process/remember what they heard during the time they were experiencing pain. 

2. This research team looked at the overly sensitive central nervous system and cognitive ability in fibromyalgia exploring the connection between them both. It is thought that diminished cognitive performance is related to impaired central pain modulation.   

3. Impaired pain inhibition is recognized in fibromyalgia, this is where the brain is unable to tune out pain. This study explored the inability to tune out pain at the same time as other other things going on in your immediate environment. This could mean that impaired pain inhibition is related to cognitive inhibition. 

Whichever way you look at it, there seems to be some type of link between the pain experienced with fibromyalgia and the symptoms of brain fog.


Does Fibro Fog Get Worse?

Yes, it can get worse and one of the contributing factors to the worsening of fibro fog is stress. Keeping stress to a minimum by practising some natural forms of stress reduction each day can help with all of your fibromyalgia symptoms, not only brain fog. Enjoyable stress reduction techniques such as yoga and tai chi can also help with some welcome natural pain relief too as you enjoy a gentle stretch of tight muscles and tendons.

As well as reducing stress, how well you take care of yourself can contribute to a reduction in your symptoms of fibro fog as well.  Resting when you need to, eating a healthy and nutritious diet, taking some regular exercise and not overdoing things can go a long way to help manage fibro fog and in helping you cope with the debilitating mental symptoms of this chronic condition.


How Do You Treat Fibro Fog?

While there is no ‘medical’ treatment that can cure fibro fog, there are several steps you can take that help reduce the symptoms of brain fog, many of which are relatively easy to build into your daily life.

10 Easy Steps To Manage Your Fibro Fog

  • CREATE SIMPLE ROUTINES – This is an easy way of helping with brain fog. As an example, set one place at home where you keep your keys and phone. Perhaps a hall table is a good example, allowing you to place these items on the table as soon as you arrive home. This will make it easier to remember where they are when you are getting ready to lock up and leave home. Carrying out this simple routine will avoid the frustration and stress of rushing around searching for mislaid items as you hurry off to work or to keep an appointment.


  • MANAGE STRESS – Put yourself first, and practise stress relieving techniques. Any form of stress either physical or emotional has the potential to trigger or worsen the symptoms of brain fog. Adding a simple yoga routine or allowing yourself 20 minutes each day to follow along to a guided meditation session via your phone can go a long way in helping you de-stress and manage your brain fog symptoms. Even sitting quietly and practising some deep breathing for a few minutes can help to clear your mind as you bring oxygen deeply into your lungs, through your bloodstream and into your brain.


  • DO ONE THING AT A TIME – Perhaps you were the world’s best multi tasker prior to your fibromyalgia diagnosis, a hard charger with an A Type personality. But for now, it is better to take a more considered and methodical approach to your tasks. When you try to do several things at once, it is more difficult to concentrate, even without fibromyalgia. Trying to watch TV, carry out a phone conversation and check your emails all at the same time isn’t doing you and your fibro fog any favors. Complete one task at a time and focus on each single task at hand until complete. If you are trying to work, find a quiet place away from any distractions to enable you to focus more easily on what you are doing.


  • USE NATURAL PAIN RELIEF – Some forms of prescribed and OTC pain relief can make your brain fog worse. Try using some of these natural pain relief ideas that help with pain but won’t leave you with any nasty side effects. As the research examples above indicate there is a connection between pain and fibro fog. Using natural pain reduction methods should also help reduce symptoms of fibro fog.


  • MAKE USE OF PLANNERS/SCHEDULERS/ALARMS – Get organized and keep track of events and appointments easily using a planner. You can use a magnetic planner at home for your fridge where it is easily seen at a central point in your house.  Or set some alarms on your phone or computer to remind you when it is time to get ready for an appointment. Setting an alarm about 30 minutes before you need to leave allows you time to prepare for an outing. Phone alarms are also a good way to remind you of regular daily tasks like picking your children up from school or when they need to be at scheduled activities. For further help in staying organized try some of these handy gadgets that help with brain fog. 


  • EAT A HEALTHY DIET – Stay away from processed food, white bread and pasta and sugary foods. Make sure to eat at regular intervals during the day. And choose from nutritious foods that support your body and your brain. Avoid any foods known to trigger your fibro fog. Include plenty of green leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli for Vitamin K. Add some healthy whole grains for steady energy and berries for their antioxidant qualities. Include more fish as Omega 3 fatty acids from fish contains DHA, known as a good source of brain food. Healthy oils such as coconut oil and olive oil should be used in place of refined vegetable oils. Avoiding caffeine from coffee and soft drinks is also a good idea as even small amounts of caffeine can cause sleep pattern disturbance. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of filtered water each day.


  • PLAY GAMES – Games such as cards, crossword puzzles, chess and mahjong are all mentally stimulating. Playing games like this can help improve memory,  increase your problem solving ability and improve cognitive function. Many games like this are readily available and can be downloaded via apps on your phone for free.

fibromyalgia brain fog treatment


  • ENCOURAGE HEALTHY SLEEP PATTERNS – Switch off all screens by about 7 pm every night and establish a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same times each day.  Use your bedroom only for relaxing and sleeping, not for working on your phone or laptop. Make sure your bedroom environment is calming and soothing. A quiet and dark bedroom is great to encourage a good solid sleep.


  • GET REGULAR EXERCISE – Regular aerobic exercise is known to help with the pain of fibromyalgia, but it also helps with brain fog by increasing blood flow and oxygenating the blood. Exercising can also help you sleep better which by itself helps with the symptoms of fibro fog. It also increases the release of endorphins, the feel good chemicals known to give you a high after exercise. This may also help you feel more alert and increase concentration and focus.


  • BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF – Accept that you are unable to do many of the things you used to do in the way you used to do them. There are some days when you will experience a difficult ‘off – day’. During such times accept you may need to rest more, it will take you longer to carry out even the simplest of tasks and learn to embrace your new reality with fibro fog. Constantly fighting against your fibromyalgia, trying to do things in the way you always have can lead to a whole lot of frustration, anger and stress.


Putting It All Together

Brain fog or fibro fog is one of the most frustrating symptoms of fibromyalgia with many sufferers saying it is as bad as the pain they deal with every day. It can impact daily life to a large degree by  the effect it has on memory, concentration and the ability to carry out simple tasks.

While there are no recognized brain fog causes in fibromyalgia, some research links it to the associated pain of the illness.

The good news is that getting relief from the symptoms of fibro fog can be simpler than you think. Making adjustments to lifestyle, diet and sleep can all assist to naturally relieve your episodes of brain fog. And by using planners, alarms and schedulers you can stay on track and remain organized even in the midst of a fibro fog episode.

Please Leave A Comment Below, Let Us Know Some Effective Ways You Have Found To Manage Your Fibro Fog.

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  1. I have found two things that help me. 1ST-ask people to spell their name when introduced. If I spell it out in my visual mind and out loud,I am able to remember it a lot easier.
    2nd- Play the game, Elevate, which is fun and exercises my brain better than anything else I have tried.

    • Thanks so much for leaving a comment and letting others know what helps your fibro fog. I haven’t tried Elevate, but used Luminosity which I think may be similar. The interesting thing about this type of app is that you can check your progress which motivates you to keep going.
      Like your idea to help you remember someone’s name. Even without brain fog I am hopeless at remembering names….. good trick.

  2. I’m a 57 year old woman and have had Fibromyalgia my whole life.I have noticed that my fog has gotten worse in the few years. But I was pretty depressed for 2 years also. I have started to really work on my diet lately. I have noticed that foods are triggers. So I started a diary of what I have eaten. And I’m really trying to start an exercise routine.
    Thank for this article it was educational.


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