Medically reviewed by
Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND, a licensed Naturopathic Doctor with clinical focus in thyroid conditions and Hashimoto's disease through The College of Naturopaths of Ontario, Canada.
Do you ever just forget where you left your things or what you were about to say? Do you struggle to concentrate on what your actions or what someone is saying to you? Although most of us experience this once in a while, if you are experiencing symptoms of forgetfulness or are struggling to concentrate more often than not, you could be experiencing what is commonly known as “brain fog”.
Brain fog occurs as a symptom in most people who experience some kind of hormone or thyroid condition, often hypothyroidism. Which is caused by an underactive thyroid gland or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
What specifically is thyroid brain fog? And why does your thyroid health contribute to your mental cognition?
Our thyroid gland produces, regulates and distributes the thyroid hormone within our bodies. This hormone is a key contributor to our overall health in general and is vital to our metabolic rate, heart, digestive muscle, bone, and brain health.
Metabolic rate and thyroid function are linked together when it comes to energy production and regulation. Any instances of fluctuations in our metabolic rates can cause us to feel tired, fatigued, sluggish and cognitively drained.
Our brains are the first systems in our bodies to experience some sort of decrease in their functionality when we have low energy levels or metabolic rates. If you are someone living with a hypothyroidism condition you are more likely to experience inhibited mental cognition or “brain fog”.
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago that aimed to determine brain fog symptoms that participants with thyroid conditions experience, 5170 participants were asked open-ended questions related to their health, brain health, and mental cognition.
Of the 5170 participants, 2409 or 46.6% of participants reported symptoms associated with brain fog before their diagnosis of their hypothyroidism condition. 4096 or 79.2% of participants reported that they experienced brain fog symptoms frequently. The most common symptoms reported by the participants included fatigue and forgetfulness.
Additional brain fog symptoms can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short Term and Long Term Memory loss or difficulty
- Difficulty focusing
- Staring into space
- Unclear thoughts
- Difficulty getting motivated
- Reduced reaction time
- Poor self-esteem
Although people being treated for their hormone-related conditions may still experience brain fog, prolonged cases of untreated hypothyroidism can lead to severe cases of brain fog. In cases of severe brain fog, some may experience severe confusion, anxiety, irritability, and depression, which can make it hard on your everyday life. This is an incredibly frustrating experience for most people under these circumstances.
How to overcome thyroid brain fog?
The simplest answer is to support your thyroid health, seeing that the fluctuations and underactivity of our thyroid cause brain fog to occur, especially with concern to those with hypothyroidism. Maintaining thyroid function will prevent symptoms from occurring or worsening.
Book a visit with your health care provider to receive a proper diagnosis about your hormone health. Understanding which condition you have or if you have none at all is an important step to take. Your doctor will be able to help you on your hormone health journey as each of us have specifics that may vary when it comes to our hormone levels.
Other ways of combating thyroid-related brain fog include:
An anti-inflammatory diet that supports our gut health. You may have heard the saying your gut is your second brain. There truly is a gut-brain connection in our body’s. Inflammation,which begins in our guts, can affect the rest of the body’s immune system, brain function, and thyroid health.
Incorporate whole grains, dark leafy greens, non-dairy alternatives, fresh herbs and spices such as turmeric and ginger into your diet.
Sleep. If you suffer from a hormone condition, you may already experience poor sleep. It is important to prioritize your sleep and work on developing a regular sleep schedule where you can get 7-8 hours of sleep daily to improve brain function.
Try drinking herbal tea in the evening one hour before bed, staying off all devices, and practicing mindfulness/breathing techniques. You’d be surprised at how effective breathing can be!
Movement. Physical activity greatly supports our mental and physical health. It’s important to find an activity you can stick to regularly. Movement helps us in our mental concentration, focus and thinking by way of oxygen flow to our brains.
Build up to harder workouts. Start with consistent walking for 20-30 minutes every day. Then jump rope, try yoga, go for a run or take a few classes.
- Brain Fog = Poor Mental Cognition, forgetfulness, fatigue and poor concentration.
- Our thyroid is a major contributing factor to overall health and brain fog.
- When our thyroid produces lower amounts of thyroid hormone our energy levels suffer which in turn affects our overall brain health and mental cognition.
- To support our brain function and combat brain fog it’s important to :
- Visit your doctor and have your hormone levels checked.
- Maintain a healthy gut and well-balanced diet to reduce inflammation in the gut.
- Implement a sleep schedule that you stick to, to improve brain function.
- Participate in daily physical activity to support your mental and physical health.
Managing your thyroid health on top of your general health can sometimes be overwhelming but ThyForLife is here to help. If you’re looking for answers or curious about what other people with thyroid conditions are using – head over to the ThyForLife App’s News & Community section!
There you can ask and answer questions anonymously with other community members, participate in daily polls and discussions, and gain access to more medically reviewed content like this article.
At ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information.Please consult your healthcare professional if you require more detailed information regarding medical terms, conditions, and practices.