As a rather late tribute to Coeliac Awareness Week (9th-15th May 2016) , I thought I’d write about a lesser known symptom of coeliac disease.
Though I’ve had coeliac disease since toddlerhood, I didn’t know there was a connection between brain fog and coeliac disease until about five years ago. I didn’t even know it was a thing.
I thought it was part of my personality to be a bit ditsy, a bit dopey and forgetful. A bit Bridget Jones.
Maybe it is to a certain extent, but I these intense periods of vagueness became more than that, and seemed to come and go with glutenings.
What is brain fog?
A lot of people assume that coeliac disease only affects the digestive system. This is untrue. Coeliac Disease is a multi-system autoimmune disorder. It can affect you neurologically.
When I joined internet forums about coeliac disease, I noticed the term ‘brain fog’ floating around, and saw that I was far from the only one experiencing these symptoms.
When the fog descends, I struggle with finding the right words and recalling what tasks I’m meant to be doing. Thinking becomes like trying to wade through treacle, and important bits of info seem to be just out of reach.
I think maybe I am tired, or hungry. But then I start to get intestinal cramps and fatigue, notice I am feeling generally a bit ‘off’, and the lightbulb goes off.
It is scary to realise as a youngish twenty-something that your memory and brain power can be short-circuited just by eating the wrong food.
In my professional life, I write. I plan. I organise stuff. I work on projects with other professionals. I have to be organised and be able to think on the spot and communicate effectively. All of this is a lot more difficult when you’re struggling to connect the dots in your head.
I have to force myself to focus on one thing at a time, and remember that it’s a symptom – I know that I am not like this when I am fully well.
So I write lists. I take notes. I send emails to myself. Set calendar reminders.
I try to be as organised as possible on the good days, so that when a ‘lost day’ comes along, I can stay on top of things.
Does this sound familiar?
Are you coeliac and ever so slightly foggy? I’d be interested to hear if brain fog is something that affects you, and how you cope with it day to day.
Until next time,
Read more about brain fog / neurological symptoms of coeliac disease: