General anesthesia is a state of controlled unconsciousness. It is a combination of medication that puts you in a sleep-like state so that you are unaware of the surgery and any pain associated with it. However, the effects of anesthesia linger even when you are out of the surgery and can lead to a feeling of brain fog. With brain fog, you feel dizzy and out of focus; you sometimes see your memory and concentration going through a slight decline. Below we will find out why does it happen, and five ways to get rid of this 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.
A new study conducted in San Francisco on mice suggests that cognitive decline or brain inflammation after surgery is triggered by the brain’s immune cells called microglia. A few rodents were given an experimental oral drug that had could deplete microglia ahead of an operation. The rodents were then less likely to fail memory tests a few days after the surgery. This hinted at a new approach to prevent cognitive decline in human beings after surgery.
How long does brain fog last after anesthesia?
With brain surgeries becoming common in elders and cognitive impairment being a common aftermath of surgery, they are causing an adverse impact on people. More than ten percent of surgery patients aged 60 and above show a cognitive impairment within three months of their surgery. But mostly it lasts for some days or a couple of weeks.
Anesthesia Brain Fog
Anesthesia used during surgeries has an effect of your cognitive functions. It suppresses the 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, lack of focus, and temporary memory loss.
It was earlier believed that post-operative cognitive dysfunction resulted from deep anesthesia during surgery, but increasing evidence links the condition to an inflammatory reaction in the brain. In fact, surgeries that are physically distant from the brain, such as hip replacement and others, might also trigger this response because it is a reaction to any surgery in the body. When any inflammation in the body becomes too persistent, a normal protective reaction can negatively impact the body, especially in elders.
5 Best Treatments for Brain Fog after Surgery
1. Drink Water
Drinking an adequate amount of water is extremely essential, 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
Your body needs enough quality protein to recover from a surgery. It needs the right amount of proteins to repair the tissues that were injured during surgery. It is also important to keep your blood sugar level stable by eating proteins, vegetables, nuts, and fruits regularly. Following a balanced diet helps in a significant recovery from surgery.
Additionally, since your body will use all its resources to heal the site of the surgery, you will need to rest. The best way to heal is to relax; 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 is the practice of inserting thin needles into specific points in the skin to balance the energy in our body. It was a part of traditional Chinese medicine but today it is popular worldwide as an alternative medical therapy to decrease pain. Acupuncture has helped many people heal faster from post-surgery side effects than usual. It also aids in reducing stress, promotes relaxation and boosts our immune system. Therefore, it is also useful in treating brain fog.
4.See a chiropractor
The Nervous System in your body is strongly impacted by general anesthesia from the surgery. Chiropractic adjustments help in reducing any interference in your nervous system as well as relieving pain in the body. It also increases the efficiency of the body to communicate with the brain quickly. This allows for more energy and a reduction in brain fog.
Sleep is one of the most critical factors for a healthy life. It further helps in quick healing after surgery or anesthesia. Due to the after-effects of anesthesia drugs and post-surgical pain, you might not get the required amount of rest and sleep. 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 essential to do your best to have an 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 tired 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 the alertness and focus that you had before your surgery. There are some brain fog home remedies as well that you can try. If you still feel a lingering effect of brain fog, you must reach out to your physician because this could be a sign of another condition. But in most cases, brain fog after surgery can be treated by following a healthy lifestyle.
- 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