Alcohol and the Brain: An Overview National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

If you have a disability and experience difficulty accessing this content, contact our webmaster at Conventional medicine views psychological stressors as independent from the rest of the body. In reality, our brains are inextricably tied to our gastrointestinal tract.

A detailed medical history, physical exam, and various tests, like blood or imaging studies, are used to evaluate brain fog. Treating brain fog depends on the root cause and may involve lifestyle and medical strategies. Likewise, a strict gluten-free diet can resolve brain fog in celiac disease.

Consider starting a healthy withdrawal program

Such effects aren’t always immediate, however, and issues can and often do build over time. In this way, it’s believed that alcohol use is one of the few depressants that can lead to depression in some users when consumed in high amounts. “Persistent heavy drinking, particularly alcohol use disorder, increases the risk for depression,” Krystal says. These foods are often high in sodium, nitrates, and other preservatives which can cause inflammation in the body, thereby triggering symptoms of brain fog. Additionally, these meats often contain high levels of unhealthy fats and are usually devoid of essential nutrients. Researchers concluded the effects of alcohol consumption on brain volume interact with the effects of aging, which means the duration of drinking also contributes to brain changes.

In the meantime, the existing nerve cells branch out to compensate for the lost functions. Moreover, after a certain age, the connections between neurons begin to prune back. This is especially true between the ages of 13 and 26, when there’s explosive growth in the prefrontal alcohol brain fog cortex. People that start drinking heavily at this time are more prone to cognitive problems like impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, anxiety and depression. According to a 2021 study in Scientific Reports, heavy drinking could lead to loss of brain volume.

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The condition can be brought about by lifestyle choices, health conditions, medications, and more. You might be experiencing brain fog—a condition that has negatively affected people worldwide, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. We eat an unneeded sugary donut and pay attention to the pleasure, but not to the calories and lack of nutritional value. Why remaining aware of the negative aspects of our pleasures ruins the ability to experience the pleasure may seem obvious, but not entirely easy to understand. I suspect alcohol marketing, with its depiction of conviviality, fun and pleasure, help effectively grease the skids of many people’s denial.

  • There are different ways to manage brain fog, depending on its cause.
  • The number one stress hormone is cortisol, commonly called “the stress hormone.” Think of cortisol like a chemical messenger.
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of alcohol-related brain fog, seeking help and support from a qualified healthcare professional is vital.
  • Aerobic exercise is any type of activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe more heavily.

And if a person has an underlying mental health disorder, like depression or bipolar disorder, alcohol can exacerbate symptoms and increase mood swings. However, a 2018 study published in The Lancet suggests that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Even low levels of consumption can harm your health; higher levels of consumption have worse effects. Some of those effects, like slurred speech and diminished memory, can be quite clear; others, like long-term cellular damage, may not be as obvious. Brain fog feels like being slowed down unwillingly or being unable to clear your mind even though you really want to.

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