The Mighty Logo

18 Signs You Have Brain Fog, and Aren't 'Just Getting Older'

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Brain fog can be one of the most frustrating symptoms to accompany chronic illness. Whether it’s a result of your illness itself, medication or a combination of the two, these cognitive issues can be serious and have a major impact on your day-to-day life. Although brain fog, like chronic illness, doesn’t discriminate and can affect people of any age, symptoms such as memory problems, difficulty concentrating and a lack of mental clarity may look similar to conditions that often affect elderly populations, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or just the memory changes that often come with age. Therefore, some people may assume that anyone who experiences some forgetfulness or concentration issues may simply be “getting older” – though there could be any number of reasons, including chronic illness-related brain fog, for their symptoms.

We wanted to help others better understand the difference between brain fog and “getting older,” so we asked our Mighty community to share a sign that they were experiencing brain fog, and not “just getting older.” If any of the following experiences sound familiar, know you’re not alone.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. Brain fog feels like a literal fog. I can feel it roll in over my brain and I lose all my words. I can retrieve the names of people I’ve known my whole life. And then the fog rolls out the next hour or the next day.” – Elizabeth H.
  2. I’m 28. I’m not ‘getting older.’ I’m sick and my brain fogs from everything. I’m too young to be like this.” – Rebecca J.
  3. I lose my spot in sentences and constantly substitute random words. I catch it right away usually, but can’t always remember the correct word. I also get very overwhelmed from sensory overload at times, and it even hurts my skin. (I’m 35, diagnosed with fibro and chronic fatigue syndrome three years ago.)” – Amie G.
  4. Getting older is forgetting things but eventually coming around to remembering… Brain fog is where you will literally be in the middle of doing something or talking and forget. Even if you know what you [are] saying or doing your brain isn’t computing enough to make it happen.” – Misty A.
  5. I’m only 32 and my doctor used to have me on gabapentin and I would lose a week or two at a time. I’d start talking to my wife about something I thought happened a day ago and she would tell me that it’s been over a week.” – Esther E.
  6. Getting older is occasionally misplacing your keys, or your phone, or the remote. Brain fog is every day, forgetting where your keys or phone are at, forgetting if you took your medication, forgetting if you’ve eaten or not. Brain fog is every day, multiple times a day.” – Bonnie P.
  7. I’m 48. I literally forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Last time I drove, I parked and got out of the car without putting it in park and didn’t turn the motor off. Not good!” – Dottie J.
  8. On brain fog days, my brain is about like my mom’s. My mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I’m in my 30s. Some days neither one of us can figure out where I parked the car. There are days when I can’t remember words and have trouble describing them well enough for her to understand them.” – Megan M.
  9. Brain fog for me is forgetting the language I’ve been studying (for five years) and learning – so much so that I cannot comprehend my professor’s question. I’ve learned this, I know this. But pain and medication brings the fog in and I’m suddenly good for nothing in the language department. No focus, retaining, or recall possible.” – Kristin M.K.
  10. I can’t follow a conversation, remember how to spell basic words, know what day it is or how to make things.” – Gemma C.
  11. I’m 31 and I forget how to do simple takes like making a cup of tea. I get confused between different objects. I mistake the TV remote for the telephone, stuff like that. I get overwhelmed and suffer with sensory overload and become confused and forget what I’m doing and where I am. I forget words and phrases a lot. It’s almost like I forget how to speak.” – Sukie M.
  12. I’m resigning from my job I have had for the past six years. I do the same things every time I am there. I even do them in the same order. My brain fog is getting so bad that I am forgetting to do the simplest of tasks that I do every time. Nothing has changed. I’m resigning now before it starts to affect patient care. I’m devastated because I love my job. I also am forgetting names of people I have known for over 20 years. And sometimes I forget my own name. It’s embarrassing. But it’s not age. My brain fog is a combination of symptoms and side effects.” – Marisa S.
  13. The ‘losing train of thought’ right in mid-sentence of the entire sentence you are talking about. I am 40 years old. This has gone on since I was a kid. It was never ‘because of my age.’ It was because not only dysautonomia but Graves’ disease as well! Which the medical field failed me for many years. That is not even the tip of the iceberg.” –KellyAnn P.
  14. I have 54 reminders in my phone, just today, for things I need to do/remember/locate. They include pretty basic things, like drinking water, doing the laundry, ‘package delivery,’ and ‘check kids’ homework.’ I’m 36. These things should be routine.” – Melly A.
  15. Fibro fog ebbs and flows in relation to the ebb and flow of fibro flares. In addition, fibro fog, for me, actually feels like my head is in a fog. The forgetfulness associated with getting older – or even due to my brain injury – does not accompany the pain, nor does it have that head-in-a-fog feeling along with it.” – Donna-Jean I.
  16. I have the same conversation with my other half and the poor man takes it. He does remind me that it’s the 517th time I’ve been excited about going to a store or anything I think I discover for the first time. I take it in stride, things could always be worse and I’ve been in the ‘worse’ before. I’m easily confused and I really don’t drive as much because I can just get lost easily/confused. That part isn’t fun but besides that, I have notes all over for me and I tend to chat with myself to make sure I make it through a task.” – Didi M.
  17. Where do I start?! No. Really. Where do I start? Losing your sentence from thought to mouth; seeing the words for your sentence in your head but not being able to physically get them out of your mouth; what the name of objects are; forgetting what order the months go in; overpaying the mortgage by $1,000 because you were trying to round up from $1,462 which your brain thinks should be $2,500; getting so overwhelmed by all the paperwork SSI requires and shutting down in tears so you can’t even finish in one sitting; forgetting whole segments of time; crying all the time because you know how smart you used to be.” – Margaret S.
  18. The fact that I am only 24… I’m pretty sure it’s not just that I am ‘getting older’ yet.” – Krys D.

Read the stories below to find out how our Mighty community copes with brain fog:

14 Products People With Brain Fog Swear By

17 Apps That Can Make Life Easier When Brain Fog Takes Over

The Small Tricks That Help Me Cope With Brain Fog

25 ‘Hacks’ That Can Make Life With Brain Fog Easier

Photo by Luther Bottrill on Unsplash

Originally published: August 29, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home