By Mapula Mokwena (Clinical Audiologist)

The COVID-19 pandemic was like no other seen in over a century. After-effects of the virus were initially thought to be short-term (2-6 weeks) However, as time went on, this sub-group of survivors continued to have serious medical issues related to the virus. These side effects include (but are not limited to) fatigue, mild cognitive issues, and low tolerance to mental activity. They also can reoccur at any time with no warning. People who experience these enduring symptoms are referred to as “long-haulers” in the media and they typically display signs of moderate cognitive impairment (MCI). However, a new word began to appear in academic writing and on media, referring to the signs of MCI as “brain fog”. Brain fog is not an official medical term but a way that patients can describe how they feel when their thinking clouds

What do we know about brain fog?

Symptoms include increased memory problems, lack of mental clarity, and an inability to stay focused. Brain fog may also include difficulty hearing and understanding in challenging listening environments. Many of the symptoms of reported brain fog may be linked to (central) auditory processing disorder, or (C)APD. Literature on the symptoms of brain fog/MCI reveals that the described behaviours are not unique, as they also show up under other diagnostic designations. 

A recent study sheds light on the causes of brain fog as well as the impact of COVID-19 on particular brain areas. The data support the idea that brain fog may be an APD or connected to its effects, particularly in light of reported reductions in a number of brain areas. According to their research, the COVID-19 brains had a larger loss of gray matter in a number of regions, many of which were involved in auditory processing. Several anatomical regions were discovered to be considerably smaller. 

What should you do if you are experiencing brain fog symptoms?

It’s time to schedule an auditory processing assessment!

Together we will determine any difficulties you may be experiencing and create an action plan that best fits you and your lifestyle. If we find auditory processing difficulties or diagnose a (C)APD, we will recommend specific intervention plans. Examples of intervention, include auditory training, amplification, environmental modifications, and assisted listening devices. Intervention and recommendation options will be discussed in detail to determine the most appropriate action plan based on the specific areas of difficulty identified. 

We look forward to working with you soon!