Is COVID Brain Fog Permanent?   

Is COVID Brain Fog Permanent?

Young woman tired, experiencing brain fog due to long COVID.

September 15, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Talya Fleming, M.D.

One of the most common complaints from those who have had COVID-19 is a loss of cognitive function, so-called “brain fog.” This term is used to describe a range of symptoms that may produce difficulty thinking, feeling slow, confusion or forgetfulness.

As a relatively new virus, COVID-19 is still being studied and the effects of Long COVID and brain fog are continually being evaluated. 

How long does Long COVID brain fog last?

A study released in August 2022, in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal, studied over one million patients with COVID-19 and found that there was an increased risk for neurological conditions, like brain fog, even after two years. 

“We’ve seen a range in recovery time amongst patients, some improve within several months, while others may start to see relief much later on,” shares Talya Fleming, M.D., Medical Director of the Post-COVID Rehabilitation Program at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. “We are even seeing Long COVID symptoms in people with “mild” COVID-19 infection. If you’re struggling with Long COVID symptoms like brain fog, there are several resources available to you to help aid in your recovery.” 

Is COVID brain fog common?

According to the CDC, survey results from this summer showed that almost 15% of patients in recovery from COVID-19 experienced Long COVID symptoms including brain fog.

Who’s at risk for brain fog from COVID?

Certain groups of people are more at risk to experience Long COVID symptoms, like brain fog. The CDC notes, you may be more at risk if: 

  • You had severe illness or hospitalization from COVID-19
  • You have underlying health conditions
  • You were not vaccinated for COVID-19
  • You experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) during or after COVID-19 illness

Primary Symptoms of Brain Fog

If you suspect you have COVID brain fog, the following symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Decreased attention span
  • Inability to focus for an extended period of time
  • Loss of executive functions, such as multitasking

These symptoms may affect a patient’s ability to handle such everyday tasks as managing finances, comprehending written materials, keeping track of medication schedules and carrying on a conversation.

When should you see a doctor for brain fog?

If you have any symptoms of brain fog, you should consult your doctor. 

Depending upon the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may suggest a neuropsychological assessment to better determine how much your cognitive functions have been compromised.  This comprehensive evaluation will help assess your cognitive functions, behavior and any mood/personality issues.

“In many cases, your doctor may recommend cognitive therapy to assist in your recovery. The Post-COVID Rehabilitation Program at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute at Hackensack Meridian Health will conduct a comprehensive evaluation and design a specific therapy program to address your needs,” adds Dr. Fleming. “In addition to formal therapy, there are steps you can take at home to help improve your recovery.” 

Steps You Can Take to Overcome Brain Fog

  • Optimize your restorative sleep
  • Eat a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet
  • Participate in physical activity as tolerated, avoiding activity that leaves you feeling more exhausted later that day or within the next several days after activity
  • Avoid use of alcohol and medications that will worsen your cognition
  • Participate in social activities and prioritize your emotional health

COVID-19 is a serious affliction that warrants immediate attention. The best way to prevent Long COVID and brain fog is to not get the virus at all – stay up to date on vaccinations and follow CDC guidance for masking and safety measures.

Next Steps & Resources: 

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



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