Beyond the fog, lies clarity
Have you ever experienced what is known as brain fog? I have- before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, and every time I have accidentally ingested gluten since then.
I think the term describes the sensation perfectly. It is a feeling of confusion, with a diminished ability to think clearly. When I experience brain fog, I find difficulty in holding conversations, and in forming new ideas and feel extremely tired and forgetful.
Although some of the most recognised symptoms of coeliac disease are digestive system issues, it has been accepted that coeliac disease presents in a multitude of ways. Amongst the many signs, symptoms and complications, we must also realise that coeliac disease can affect our mental health. It affects our thinking, emotions, and behaviour. Brain fog is not recognized as a clinical diagnosis because it is not easy to test for. It is very subjective, but people surely know when they have it. There is very little research on brain fog in coeliac disease but it is known to be a symptom of several autoimmune conditions. It has also been reported to affect people who suffer from non coeliac gluten sensitivity.
I had suffered from this cloudiness and poor clarity of thought for years before I was diagnosed. It affected me badly during my University years, but to me it became normality. It was only after I started my gluten free diet that I felt better- I was more alive and functioned so much better. It is difficult to describe. I remember reading about brain fog a few years after I was diagnosed and it all made sense. I had not been imagining this strange sensation every time I accidentally ingested gluten after all.
According to Anderson (2013) specific signs of brain fog can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Problems with attentiveness
- Lapses in short-term memory
- Difficulty finding the right words while speaking or writing
- Temporary loss in mental acuity and creativity
- Confusion or disorientation
All this can cause intense frustration and an inability to function well in society. Although brain fog affects short-term memory, attention, and concentration, it does not usually affect intelligence, reading comprehension, or long-term memory (Morgan Griffin, 2014).
Stress, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies and depression can all be contributing factors for brain fog in people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity.
The good news is that we can prevent brain fog by following a healthy gluten free diet, and getting enough sleep and rest. When a person with coeliac disease follows their diet, their intestine can heal and there will in turn be better absorption of nutrients to aid brain function. With an accidental glutening, brain fog usually resolves as other symptoms diminish.
Have you ever experienced brain fog?
How did it affect you?
Anderson, Jane. “Gluten: A Cause of Brain Fog.” About.com Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity. N.p., 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2014.
Morgan Griffin, R. “Multiple Sclerosis.” Clearing Away MS Brain Fog: Understanding It, Learning to Focus. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014. .
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