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kayo

Inability To Concentrate, Fuzz Brain

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I'm not sure if this is a celiac thing, an age thing or maybe my thyroid thing (undiagnosed but a suspect) but maybe you can shed some light.

I can't concentrate worth a damn. And the funny thing is I can't even concentrate on not concentrating. I'm easily distracted, fuzz brained and can't remember a thing. It's most noticeable at work. I was laid off a few years ago and then worked part time and was self employed for a while. Then last year I took a full time job that I really like but it's easy peasy compared to what kind of jobs I've had in the past (management, juggling a bazillion balls, working 60+ hours a week, etc.) I'm overqualified which is ok, I didn't want the stress or the headaches. Long story short, the job is a cake walk, I've gotten good reviews and have a good reputation.

However, I can't remember a thing. I feel like I'm still in that first week when nothing makes sense and you don't know where anything is. I can't concentrate. It takes me forever to accomplish things. I can't remember people's names or what group's they're in. I can't even remember things I'm supposedly an expert on. Sometimes people will ask me a question and I have no idea what they're talking about. I feel like my brain is dull and I've lost my sharpness and ability to juggle multiple tasks. Fortunately I work with mostly men so they don't notice the lack of multitasking ;-) (joking!) But it's something I notice.

As I write this all out I'm concerned but day to day I just go with the flow. I'm more or less obliviousness to my own fuzziness. I'm not depressed. In fact I feel the most stress free I have ever been. My anxiety is gone. I wonder if I had gotten used to the anxiety and stress which I'm sure was heightened by the gluten and soy. I'm not sure what to think. Maybe I'm just relaxed and I haven't adjusted to that feeling yet.

I'm not sure this post even makes sense! :D Is this something you can relate to?

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I'm not sure if this is a celiac thing, an age thing or maybe my thyroid thing (undiagnosed but a suspect) but maybe you can shed some light.

I can't concentrate worth a damn. And the funny thing is I can't even concentrate on not concentrating. I'm easily distracted, fuzz brained and can't remember a thing. It's most noticeable at work. I was laid off a few years ago and then worked part time and was self employed for a while. Then last year I took a full time job that I really like but it's easy peasy compared to what kind of jobs I've had in the past (management, juggling a bazillion balls, working 60+ hours a week, etc.) I'm overqualified which is ok, I didn't want the stress or the headaches. Long story short, the job is a cake walk, I've gotten good reviews and have a good reputation.

However, I can't remember a thing. I feel like I'm still in that first week when nothing makes sense and you don't know where anything is. I can't concentrate. It takes me forever to accomplish things. I can't remember people's names or what group's they're in. I can't even remember things I'm supposedly an expert on. Sometimes people will ask me a question and I have no idea what they're talking about. I feel like my brain is dull and I've lost my sharpness and ability to juggle multiple tasks. Fortunately I work with mostly men so they don't notice the lack of multitasking ;-) (joking!) But it's something I notice.

As I write this all out I'm concerned but day to day I just go with the flow. I'm more or less obliviousness to my own fuzziness. I'm not depressed. In fact I feel the most stress free I have ever been. My anxiety is gone. I wonder if I had gotten used to the anxiety and stress which I'm sure was heightened by the gluten and soy. I'm not sure what to think. Maybe I'm just relaxed and I haven't adjusted to that feeling yet.

I'm not sure this post even makes sense! :D Is this something you can relate to?

Hi Kayo,

You really could be getting trace gluten somehow. I found for me trace amounts can have an insidious effect. Try to figure it out. It could be from vitamins or shampoo or hand cleaner or even just shaking people's hands and not washing afterward if later on you touch your mouth.

I also find I am very sensitive to breathing in particles like at a place they make things out of flour or even plaster dust (nowadays it usually has gluten in it--esp. the pre-mixed stuff or things like fix-all). A good mask in conditions like that is very helpful. If they have just vacuumed or swept try to leave the building til the dust has settled!

Be careful too of glues at work, including envelopes. Some say its not a problem, and it might not be. However it could possibly have CC in the corn based glue. I use a bottle with a sponge and don't touch the gluey parts if possible, and wash my hands afterward. It means being willing to be really kind of neurotic, but its worth it. You don't have to tell anyone unless you want to or somehow it seems appropriate.

As far as remedies are concerned, exercise, saunas, pro-biotics, pineapple and papaya and/or bromelain/papain capsules, dandelion root (liver cleanse), yellow dock or Oregon grape root--intestinal cleanse (alternate--no alcohol tinctures!!), marshmallow root (anti-inflammatory), cleaver leaf (lymphatic cleanse), L-glutamine (soothes the intestines, helps with energy production of the mitochondria etc., takes down inflammation), B-vitamins to strengthen the nervous system, heart and brain (esp. co-enzyme ones if necessary -- as it has been for me), minerals, vitamin D, Omega 3's, 6's and 9's etc. all can make a huge difference.

Recently I have been also adding in freshly blended raw green vegetables --what a pick me up! It really helps clear out the cobwebs...

I am also finding using hypnotherapy and/or self suggestion can help too. It isn't that CC isn't real, however you can help the body speed its healing recovery and resilience through the use of imagery and suggestion. Nevertheless, I think its still important to do all the above in order to not tax ourselves needlessly...

Good luck -- and let us know if any of these remedies help you out...

Bea

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I have had major problems with "brain fog" as well: difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and finding that I have needed to focus so hard on what I'm doing that it tires me out. Both mental and physical tasks were just too tiring and effortful.

Anyway, I was diagnosed/went gluten-free in mid-Feb. 2010, and it was suggested by several very insightful and experienced people here that I might be going through gluten withdrawal. I suspect they are right, because finally I am having times when I am comparatively clear-headed. However, if I'm overtired, my insides are acting up or I have a migraine (yup, have had these, too, since going gluten-free) these "mental" symptoms can return.

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have you had thyroid blood tests, or do you just think it might be thyroid?

I would strongly urge you to have your TSH, free T3 and free T4 tested. Brain fog, memory loss and your other symptoms could be Grave's disease. I've had it. It's no fun. And could be deadly if it remains untreated.

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Thank you all for your replies.

I'm 98% sure I'm not getting glutened. When I get glutened I have a food poisoning like reaction in the middle of the night that last for hours and then I feel beat up for days. All my food, toiletries, meds, vitamins and household items have been vetted for gluten, soy and dairy. I'm an avid label reader and re-reader.

In fact this fogginess has come on since going gluten and soy free. It doesn't come and go which is why I don't think it's necessarily gluten or CC related but wondering if it's just an overall symptom of celiac. This fogginess has been going on since the end of '09 and it's constant and it's getting gradually more severe.

Prior to going gluten and soy free I was filled with anxiety and was hyper-vigilant about most things. I was a tazmanian devil filled with mental energy. I was on top of everything. I couldn't turn my brain off. I didn't realize these things were so intense until they were gone. So think it's more so the absence of gluten and soy which is contributing to how I feel. I feel like the pendulum has swung from anxiety right past normal to fuzzy.

I have a doc appointment coming up and will be having my thyroid checked. I suspect this might be the culprit. My face and neck are so swollen despite the rest of me slimming down (though I haven't lost any real weight). This makes the swelling in my face and neck even more prominent. I look like I've been stung by bees! (my new driver's license is dreadful!)

I'm also cold. It's a weird coldness that seems to come from inside and radiate out. My extremities will feel so cold to me but they are warm to the touch to other people. At night I'm wearing layers to bed and have extra blankets on and I still can't get warm. This is not the norm for me, typically I'm a furnace. The coldness hits me when I'm resting and it's the worst when I'm sleeping.

I'll look up Graves, thank you for that idea. I have also looked up Hashimoto's but need to revisit the information. I have had my thyroid checked in previous years but I believe they only checked the TSH and the results were always normal or borderline.

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I've been gluten free for 4-5 weeks. I had fog-in-the-head up until that time, then I became clear-headed once off gluten, now the fog has returned. It almost feels like I'm in a different dimension sometimes. Although it sounds cool, it's not fun. My eyes are always very heavy/sleepy too. I also cannot concentrate. My thyroid is fine (I've been on Synthroid for the last 26 years and have it checked annually.) That "cold" feeling usually hits me when I'm fasting so I wonder if you're eating enough as I have not felt cold. With me, all this sounds like withdrawal symptoms and I guess it can last a while.

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I get fuzzy brain too. I've not pinned down the exact cause, I thought it may be an instant reaction to, say gluten, but suspect it may be a delayed reaction for a certain amount of meals after I eat something which I'm intolerant to.

I also thought it was my thyroid but it wasn't, I have weak adrenals but figure this is due to the constant inflammation.

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feels like I'm in a different dimension sometimes

This is a great way to describe it! I don't feel like myself which is what I've been saying to my docs for about.... 5-6 years. Though the way I have felt has changed over that time frame. Currently it's like there's a layer of gauze between me and the world.

weak adrenals

I've seen this mentioned a few times on the board. What does it mean?

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Hi Kayo!

Your not alone! Right before I was diagnosed I had major memory problems! I especially noticed it when I could not remember how to tack up my horse one day (after 10 years of riding)...I felt so stupid and did not know what was wrong with me. I would mix up things and even in school I would not remember what I had learned the day before and I felt like people just thought I was lazy!

Even now (7 years later being gluten free) I still have problems with memory especially if I find I have been eating or using something that had hidden gluten in it! I am extra careful to always read labels especially when it comes to makeup and shampoo (those always got me when I was a bit younger and figured it would be "fine").

About your inability to concentrate along with not feeling as stressed lately, I can relate. I used to be a very so picky when it would come to things I want everything to look just right or get done just right...but after going gluten free I hardly feel like I care how things are...it's not that I feel lazy per say...just not as caring about things I used to care about, if that makes sense?

So anyway just wanted to say your not alone! I have felt alone since my husband can eat gluten and doesn't understand why I just forget things or maybe don't feel good some days. It can be frustrating! Definitely check what products your using along with any foods as well to make sure they do not contain any traces of gluten! Sometimes manufacturers change their ingredients without warning...something that used to be gluten free can turn into something not gluten free!

Good luck!

-Jessika

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Start taking some sublingual vitamin B12. There are known connections to Celiac and Pernicious anemia. (This technically would not show up in an ordinary blood test iron level.) This would involve the intrinsic factor of the gut lining to absorb vitamin B12.

Thyroid problems can become life threatening and you should work with an endocrologists. There is a definate link to auto-immine thyroid disease and Celiac. (10% correlation at least)

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About your inability to concentrate along with not feeling as stressed lately, I can relate. I used to be a very so picky when it would come to things I want everything to look just right or get done just right...but after going gluten free I hardly feel like I care how things are...it's not that I feel lazy per say...just not as caring about things I used to care about, if that makes sense?

Yes, yes, yes, this is it. Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what I mean. I just don't care. I don't care that I'm not at the top of my game and that I'm not juggling a million things or that the house isn't in tip top shape or that my hair looks like deep fried a**. I feel so laissez faire, unburdened and relaxed. It's kind of nice. But then the memory issues do have me concerned.

I had my vitamin levels checked and B12 was normal. I did have B12 shots a few years back because it was so low. This time though my Vitamin D was low. I believe it was a 16 and the normal range is 30.0 to 74.0 so I'm on 50k units of Vitamin D a week. I can't tell if it's making any difference.

Due to the RA I'm always slightly anemic. Both the RA and the RA meds affect the anemia. I see a new RA doc next week and will bring this all up with him.

I think an endocrinologist may be a good idea, thank you for the suggestion.

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Weak adrenals are cause by excessive stress and constant inflammation of the small intestine means the need for cortisol is greater than normal. Over a period of time on top of day-to-day stresses this adds up and your adrenals burn out to some extent and aren't able to produce the cortisol required on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately if you are in this position, diagonosed by an Adrenal Stress Index (a saliva test, 4 times a day), then there is really nothing you can do other than reduce the stress (i.e. don't get glutened / avoid foods that cause you a reaction). Steroids cause adrenal atrophy so don't even go there and supplements are uber expensive and having tried them aren't all that. It's just a case of easing off the GI stress for a prolonged period and allowing your adrenals to rest and heal.

It may be a thyroid issue but don't build up your hopes, I did and was a bit deflated when my thyroid came back fine albeit I have slightly high thyroid autoantibodies. Interestingly though these antibodies help to support my issues being down to celiac.

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Prior to going gluten and soy free I was filled with anxiety and was hyper-vigilant about most things. I was a tazmanian devil filled with mental energy. I was on top of everything. I couldn't turn my brain off. I didn't realize these things were so intense until they were gone. So think it's more so the absence of gluten and soy which is contributing to how I feel. I feel like the pendulum has swung from anxiety right past normal to fuzzy.

Poor concentration can be a symptom of anxiety. Could you have had poor concentration this whole time, but now that those more severe anxiety symptoms (above) have decreased, you're noticing the difficulty concentrating more? Just a thought. It never hurts to also try anxiety management techniques that include exercise, relaxation, stretching, massage, magnesium. New Harbinger has some great self-helps books - Anxiety and Phobia Workbook and Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook are two good ones.

I've had worse brain fog since my celiac's 'woke up' last summer. I'm gluten-free, but still there are times I forget and let things boil over on the stove, misplace things, etc. It's very annoying. I also found out I'm vit D deficient, so I'm hoping I see a little improvement with more vit D.

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As mentioned above vitamin B12 I go for injections once a month at a doctor, it helps a ton. As it starts wearing down I get fuzzy head and know it's time for a shot.

(blood tests showed B12 very low) Hopefully as I recover they will be not needed.

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Hi! I'm with Reba and whomever else suggested thyroid. It sounds like before, you were hyper(couldn't turn off your brain, super vigilant etc...) now you've turned hypo. This bone chilling cold you describe I have heard MANY times from hypo people. Described just like you say. I have been made hyper by anti thyroid meds when I was hyper and I have felt cold like this among other symptoms. The brain fog is CLASSIC. Have your tpo's and anti thyroglobulin checked too besides the "free" t 3 and 4. Also get a copy of labs, docs LOVE to say"oh, you're normal" when your levels are really low! My daughter's doc said Hashi and celiac are definitely linked.

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Oh sorry....the face and neck puffiness, that's a real sign too. Do your eyes look swollen, like the lids, or do you have bags under your eyes? Sometimes some women are affected like that too.The overall puffiness. Are your fingers swollen looking too?

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Thank you all for coming along this journey with me! I feel like I'm so close, that some answers are inevitable.

My eyes look ok but my fingers are puffy and swollen. Haven't been able to wear my weddings rings in about a year. I'd say I look puffy all over ;)

Saw my new RA doc today and we talked about this fogginess. They're testing me for lupus and thyroid. We were able to look at my old thyroid tests from about 3 years ago and the TSH was .53 and the T3 and T4 were at the high end of normal (T4 was 193 and I don't recall the T3). It will be interesting to see what the latest results show. That low TSH is more hyper than hypo, right? My current symptoms are definitely hypo. Speaking of which, I'm freezing.

I don't know much about lupus but will do some homework. I know it's related and often co-morbid with RA and they share much of the same symptoms but I'm not sure what differentiates them.

This new RA doc knows what celiac is!! Not only was he familiar with the GI issues but the ataxia and other complications that could arise. Overall it was a good visit. I'll keep the thread up to date as I get some results.

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Kayo,

yes the t-4 being at 193, if it was a "free" t-4 reading that would suggest hyper, range(.80-1.80) the tsh at .53 isn't really low, when I was diagnosed it was like 000.5 or something like that, undetectable.I wish you good luck in finding out. If you are truly hypo, which I think you are, you can get meds for that, at least. Hypothyroid is VERY common.

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I hope the results come soon. I'm at work today and I can't focus, can't stick to any one task and I realized I had a project that I was supposed to be working on that I completely forgot about. I didn't even recognize the name of the project or that it had any connection to me. I'm behind on my to do list and I look at the items that I have contributed to and I don't even remember doing them. I'm supposed to be leading a task and I'm so worried I'm going to drop the ball because I can't remember anything even when I write it down. I look at what I wrote and it's gibberish. I was out twice this week. I've been out a lot actually. I'm worried I'm going to be 'that person' at work, the one who is always sick and can't be counted on. That really concerns me because I take pride in being a good employee and team player. It's really here at work where I recognize how spacey and out of it I am. :(

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This may be something you've already checked, but you sound anemic to me. Being cold, having trouble concentrating, etc. Do you know what your ferratin and b12 levels are?

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