Brain fog surgery that contains anesthesia is common. The anesthesia blocks pain receptors in the brain so that you do not feel pain during your surgery. This effect of anesthesia can linger even after you are out of surgery. The feeling of brain fog, feeling fuzzy, not alert, without focus, and possibly short term memory loss is temporary. Below we discuss why it happens, and some ways to get rid of brain fog after surgery. These include proper rest, diet, and getting your nervous system back to normal as fast as possible.
Why does brain fog happen after surgery?
While there are many reasons for having brain fog, anesthesia is the most common for elderly people usually after surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, you may be receiving anesthesia. The anesthesia is used to suppress nerve cells that you do not feel pain during a procedure. The effect of the anesthesia can have a lingering effect, where you still feel foggy even once you are out of your procedure.
Now a new study in mice by UC San Francisco researchers suggests that brain inflammation and cognitive decline following surgery are triggered by the brain’s own specialized immune cells, called microglia. Mice given an experimental oral drug that temporarily depletes microglia ahead of an operation were much less likely to fail memory tests several days after surgery, the UCSF team found, suggesting a possible new approach to preventing the condition in humans.
Surgeries in elderly patients are becoming more common, and cognitive impairment is increasingly acknowledged by anesthesiologists to be a common side effect of surgery in these patients. A few studies in recent years have found that upwards of 10 percent of surgery patients ages 60 and older show some degree of cognitive impairment three months following surgery, although the diagnostic criteria for the condition have not yet been standardized, and causes and risk factors are still being explored.
Anesthesia Brain Fog
Anesthesia used during surgeries has a cognitive effect. It suppresses nerve cells in your brain and body temporarily so you don’t feel the pain that you otherwise would if you were “going under the knife” as they say. This anesthesia can linger even after surgery causing a feeling of fogginess and a lack of focus, and temporary memory loss.
Post-operative cognitive dysfunction was previously believed to be caused by deep anesthesia during surgery. But increasing evidence instead links the condition to an inflammatory reaction in the brain, now understood to be a normal response to tissue trauma occurring anywhere in the body – even surgeries physically distant from the brain, such as hip replacement, may trigger this response. Studies have shown that when this inflammation is excessive or too persistent, as may be the case in the elderly, the normally protective response can negatively impact cognition.
5 Best Treatments for Brain Fog after Surgery
1. Drink Water
It is so important to drink enough water every day, and especially after general anesthesia. Doctors suggest drinking one quart of water every 50 pounds of body weight. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you must drink 3 quarts of water. Additionally, pain pills given after surgery may also cause constipation. This constipation will require digestion of fiber and lots of water.
2. Recover through diet and rest
It is critical that your body gets enough quality protein as you recover from surgery. Your body will need the protein to help repair tissue that was injured during surgery. Keeping your blood sugar stable by eating protein, vegetables, nuts, or some fruit every few hours of the day will help tremendously as you recover from surgery.
Additionally, since your body will use all it’s resources to heal the site of the surgery, you will need to rest. The best way to heal is to rest, therefore rest as much as you can. This will allow the immune system to heal the site of surgery much quicker, thereby allowing you to be back to normal much faster.
Acupuncture has helped many people recover from surgery and the side effects of anesthesia at a much faster pace than usual. Acupuncture can decrease their pain, help people to relax, and decrease their brain fog. Acupuncture is a system of balancing the energy in your body by stimulating certain points on the body.
4.See a chiropractor
The Nervous System in your body is strongly impacted by anesthesia, especially general anesthesia. Chiropractic adjustments help reduce interference in your nervous system and increase the efficiency at which your brain and body communicate back and forth. This allows for more energy and a reduction in brain fog.
Sleep is one of the most important factors for healing after surgery or anesthesia. It is very common to not sleep well right after anesthesia or surgery, due to the after-effects of the anesthesia drugs as well as post-surgical pain. This lack of sleep is maybe due to anxiety which is also a common cause of brain fog. Your body repairs itself while you sleep. It is important to do your best to have uninterrupted sleep at night.
Due to the nature of anesthesia, where it blocks pain receptors in your brain, it may feel like you are foggy and fatigued even after surgery. This is common, and normal. However after a night of proper sleep, and with plenty of fruits and a proper diet, the brain fog should go away leading to alertness and focus that you had prior to your surgery. There are some brain fog home remedies as well that you can try. However, If you do notice having brain fog after surgery lingering even after you feel back to normal, reach out to your physician as this may be a sign of another condition that can only be treated by a physician.
- Cognitive Decline After Surgery Tied to Brain’s Own Immune Cells | UC San Francisco. 2020. Cognitive Decline After Surgery Tied To Brain’S Own Immune Cells. [online] Available at: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2017/04/406451/cognitive-decline-after-surgery-tied-brains-own-immune-cells#:~:text=After%20undergoing%20surgery%2C%20elderly%20patients,is%20the%20more%20likely%20cause. [Accessed 23 June 2020].
- Ocon, A. (2013, April 5). Caught in the thickness of brain fog: Exploring the cognitive symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Retrieved June 01, 2020, from
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