Information alert

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Cognitive symptoms or ‘brain fog’ have been widely reported by people with Long COVID. Cognition is a term that is used to describe our ability to remember things, use and understand language, attend to information, process and make decisions.

Brain fog or cognitive symptoms in Long COVID can include:

  • Poor concentration or attention
  • Slower thinking speed
  • Difficulty with immediate or short-term memory
  • Difficulty generating or remembering words
  • Executive memory - your ability to plan, organise and multitask

Some people have described brain fog as: 

Brain fog PIL.JPG

Brain fog or cognitive symptoms may fluctuate week by week, day by day or even hour by
hour. As part of your recovery and management there are several things that you may
wish to try to manage brain fog:

Trying to compensate for any identified areas of difficulty:
  • Try to reduce the amount of information given all at once by focusing on one task at a time.
  • Try to complete more complex tasks first or when feeling more alert.
Pacing your activities:
  • If possible, try to split tasks up either evenly throughout the week or throughout the day to avoid long periods of concentrating.
  • Keep your routine and environment ‘memory friendly’ - try to keep objects (keys, wallet) in the same place.
Develop a range of external memory aids such as:
  • Alarms – remind you of appointments or tasks to complete
  • Post it notes – place in obvious places such as the bathroom mirror or fridge
  • Personal organisers or mobile phone reminders
  • Other people – ask a friend or family to remind you
  • Writing notes
Ensure Regular breaks:
  • Short periods of complete or restorative rest throughout the day. For further information on this, please see our fatigue management leaflet.

Other factors to consider when managing your brain fog symptoms:
(If any of the above are a problem for you, please discuss this with your long COVID team
or your GP as they may be able to help.)

Poor sleep:
  • This can result in poor attention, slower thinking speed and difficulty retrieving information.
  • This can impact attention and our ability to learn, and problem solve.
  • This can result in worsening of brain fog and is closely linked to fatigue and low mood.
Anxiety and depression:
  • This can result in slower thinking, difficulty concentrating and feeling like your words and thoughts are scrambled.

If you wish to access further information on managing brain fog and return to work.
Please see our return-to-work leaflet for more detailed information. 

Page last updated: 21 May 2024

Review due: 31 October 2025