When Does COVID-19 Brain Fog Go Away? Your Guide

Medically Reviewed By Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Was this helpful?
0

Brain fog is a possible complication of COVID-19. Typical symptoms include concentration difficulties, memory problems, and confusion. Brain fog is an informal term for slowed brain function. It can result from ordinary factors, such as tiredness and a lack of sleep. It can also result from a previous COVID-19 infection.

You may experience brain fog while you have COVID-19, or it may occur after you recover. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a number of months.

This article explains the link between COVID-19 and brain fog. It also looks at treatments for brain fog, when to contact a doctor, and more.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 brain fog?

A person is lying on the floor and holding their head.
Maskot/Getty Images

Brain fog can make the brain seem fuzzy or vague. It may also distort concentration and thinking. 

Additional symptoms can include:

  • memory problems 
  • attention problems
  • confusion
  • forgetfulness
  • a lack of motivation 
  • being easily distracted 

Researchers suggest that brain fog symptoms may also evolve into anxiety and depression.

Learn about other symptoms of COVID-19.

How long does COVID-19 brain fog last?

COVID-19-induced brain fog affects people differently. Many people recover within a few days or weeks. Others may continue to have symptoms for a number of months.

You could have a long lasting brain fog even if you had mild COVID-19 symptoms.

Can I have brain fog after COVID-19?

Some people who recover from COVID-19 go on to experience post-infection symptoms.

Doctors use the term “long COVID” or “post-COVID-19 syndrome” to describe these symptoms. Post-COVID-19 syndrome can often include brain fog. It may also include:

What are the treatments for COVID-19 brain fog?

There is no individual treatment for COVID-19 brain fog. However, there are medications to help control symptoms.

One such treatment is bupropion. Bupropion is an atypical antidepressant approved by the Food and Drug Administration for depression and smoking cessation. It works by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are two brain chemicals that control brain states.

Your doctor may also recommend:

  • exercising 
  • avoiding alcohol and smoking 
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet 
  • reducing your caffeine intake
  • getting sufficient rest
  • learning to reduce stress

Learn about treatments for COVID-19.

When should I contact a doctor?

According to studies, brain fog can occasionally be severe enough to affect a person’s quality of life. 

Contact your doctor if your symptoms persist or if they are severe enough to affect your quality of life. They will be able to advise on treatments to help you to manage your symptoms.

Find out when to contact a doctor about COVID-19.

How common is COVID-19 brain fog?

A 2022 study investigated the prevalence of brain fog in people who had previously undergone hospitalization due to COVID-19.

The researchers found that 33% of people reported memory problems 8 weeks after hospitalization. 27% of people reported concentration problems 8 weeks after hospitalization.

Another group of scientists conducted a survey to determine the frequency of brain fog in people who had survived COVID-19. They found that 62.3% had long COVID syndrome, while 7.2% had brain fog associated with long COVID syndrome.

These figures suggest that COVID-19 brain fog is a relatively common phenomenon.

How does COVID-19 affect the brain?

The COVID-19 virus, or SARS-CoV-2, can enter the brain and cause damage to various brain structures. It can target the sections of the brain that control smell and taste. It may also affect the sections of the brain that direct feelings and emotions.

This can lead to problems, such as:

  • Ageusia: This refers to a loss of the sense of taste.
  • Anosmia: This refers to a loss of the sense of smell.
  • Parosmia: This describes a distorted sense of smell.
  • Phantosmia: This is when you perceive smells that are not there.
  • Brain damage: This results from the destruction of the brain cells.
  • Encephalitis: This is when the brain becomes inflamed.
  • Stroke or cerebrovascular accidents: This is when a blood clot or another factor interrupts blood flow to the brain.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect any of these conditions.

Who is at risk of brain fog from COVID-19?

Brain fog can occur in anyone who has recently recovered from COVID-19. However, it most commonly affects the following:

  • people assigned female at birth 
  • people who had respiratory problems at the onset of the infection
  • people who had intensive care unit admission

Experts are working to understand the risk factors for COVID-19 brain fog more fully.

Summary

Brain fog is an informal term for slowed brain function. It is a common complication of COVID-19.

Symptoms of brain fog include concentration difficulties, memory problems, and confusion.

Many people with COVID-19 brain fog may get better within days or weeks. Others may continue to have symptoms for months.

There is currently no cure for the condition. However, there are treatments to help control symptoms.

Contact your doctor for advice if you experience symptoms of brain fog. They will be able to recommend treatments and steps to help you to manage your symptoms.

Was this helpful?
0
Medical Reviewer: Meredith Goodwin, MD, FAAFP
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 23
View All Coronavirus Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.