Maybe it’s not the peroxide

It's hard to see the light on brain-fog days.

It’s hard to see the light on brain-fog days.

Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that sometimes I can be a little ‘vague’.

Like the time I confused my nephews’ birthdays and the older boy received a present from me on his brother’s birthday.

Or the time I came home from a two-week holiday to find my front door unlocked.

Luckily, The Absent-minded Aunty lives in a secure unit block.

Sometimes it takes a while for things to sink in or I have trouble finding a word or even stringing a sentence together.

This can be a tad embarrassing because I make my living as an expert communicator.

Back in the day I blamed the late night partying.

Nowadays I blame the long working week, too much late night TV or whatever myriad things I’m worried about.

I’ve even blamed the peroxide that makes me a blond.

That was until I read a post about ‘brain fog’ on Swell Gals, a Facebook group for women with arthritis.

It appeared my vagueness, a.k.a. brain fog, might be connected to my rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

A consultation with Dr Google revealed that while brain fog wasn’t a medical term, many people with RA experienced thinking and memory difficulties.

The possible, but unproven, causes of brain fog include:

• cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity
• depression
• fatigue
• oral corticosteroids
• pain.

Coffee and a couple of Tim Tams may be good, instant fixes for brain fog but I’ve found once I hit the sugar slump, my concentration deteriorates.

Better, longer-term remedies include:

• a full night’s sleep. Inflammation or a bad night’s sleep can make you feel tired and fatigued. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Use a pillow that supports your neck and a comfortable mattress that isn’t too soft or too hard. See your doctor if you need help with pain management, sleep medication or better sleeping habits.

• exercise. Research shows that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise helps you to think better but don’t work out too close to bedtime because it can make you too energized to sleep. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about the best exercises for you.

• a well-balanced diet. A diet low in saturated fats, high in fibre and including fruit and vegetables is vital to maintaining a healthy weight and overall wellbeing.

• good emotional health. Talk to your doctor if you often feel depressed or anxious.

• well managed cardiovascular disease, if you have it. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, work with your doctor to lower your numbers.

• organisation. Write down important meetings, events, and to-do list tasks in a day planner or in your smart phone or tablet. Try to save the most brain-intensive tasks for times of the day when you know you’re most alert.

• ask your doctor how you can keep or improve your brain power. Tactics may include programs or activities that help your memory.

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