There are ways to help manage MS brain fog

MS brain fog is a term used for certain symptoms that can affect your ability to think. It can make you feel confused or disorganised, or it can make it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words. Brain fog can also affect your memory, your use of language or your ability to understand it, your ability to process and understand information, your ability to recognise shapes and navigate spaces, your ability to calculate, organise, solve problems and your ability to plan. This can be frustrating and can make daily tasks like finding the keys or shopping for groceries difficult.

Just like any other muscle in your body, your brain needs activity and rest:

  • Activity – Keeping your brain active can involve simple or complex activities; games are a great way to exercise the brain (e.g. sudoku, jigsaw puzzles), as is learning a new skill or language, or learning to sing, draw or dance
  • Rest – Try to recognise when you are getting cognitive fatigue and let your brain rest by turning off any screens, including your phone, and doing nothing for a little while. A good night’s sleep is also very important so that your brain can get a proper rest

icon_brainKeep your brain as healthy as possible

From a lifestyle point of view, there are several changes you can make to keep your brain as healthy as possible:1

Keep as active as you can – The fitter you are, the faster your brain can process information and the more brain tissue is preserved

Keep your weight under control – People who are obese tend to have more brain lesions compared to people who are a healthy weight 

Keep your mind active – Protect against cognitive problems by keeping your brain active through education, reading, hobbies and artistic or creative pastimes

Avoid smoking – Compared to people with MS who do not smoke, those who do smoke tend to have a smaller brain volume, relapse more often, have more disability, have more cognitive problems, and don’t live as long

Watch how much you drink – People with MS who drink unsafe amounts of alcohol tend not to live as long as people with MS who consume safe amounts of alcohol

Continue taking other medicines your doctor has prescribed – There are some other conditions that can make your MS worse, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is therefore important to take any medications your doctor has prescribed for other conditions

The Staying Smart site from the MS Trust in the UK has some great information and advice for managing cognitive challenges.

Take me there


icon_tipsTips to help manage daily tasks include:

Avoid distractions – Find a quiet space to concentrate and take regular breaks to help you focus

Explain – Tell your family and friends how you feel or what you struggle with and ask them to speak more slowly if need be

Get organised – Think about using a diary, making lists or using phone-based reminders to take your medication, go to doctor's appointments or to complete tasks and chores.

In this video by MS Australia, Dr Hamish Campbell very quickly explains what brain fog is.

The information in this embedded video has been developed by the author(s) of the video. Novartis has not been involved in the creation of this content. The intent of providing this material is informational and not as advice. Any information provided by this source should be discussed with your healthcare professional and does not replace their advice.


  • MS Australia. Brain health: A guide for people with multiple sclerosis. (date of last update not specified).