Symptoms – Cognitive Dysfunction: Brain Fog


In this leaflet we review one of the characteristic symptoms of M.E. – cognitive dysfunction. It can be a very frustrating symptom, affecting word-finding, comprehension, reading, writing, listening, concentration and other mental activities.


“Often referred to as ‘brain fog’ by people with M.E., cognitive dysfunction is how doctors refer to problems with normal mental functioning – concentration and short-term (working) memory in particular. It’s a worrying and often very frustrating part of having the condition.

“The symptoms can fluctuate and vary from mild to severe. The cause remains uncertain and there is no effective form of drug treatment available – although self-help coping strategies can be helpful.

What is cognitive dysfunction?

“Typical symptoms include:

  • Short-term memory lapses
  • Difficulty in concentrating or sustaining attention
  • Difficulty with processing incoming information and retrieving stored information
  • Trouble finding the right word, remembering or mixing up commonly used words
  • Problems with carrying out everyday tasks that involve any form of sustained mental activity

“Most doctors regard cognitive dysfunction as a very characteristic feature of M.E. and would be reluctant to make a diagnosis in anyone who does not report this key symptom to some degree…”

Telephone Helpline

The ME Association telephone helpline – ME Connect – is available every day of the year, during the hours of 10am-12noon, 2pm-4pm and 7pm-9pm. Please phone: 0344 576 5326 if you have any questions or would simply like to talk to someone who is there to listen.

Please note this leaflet is a download. You can read it on-screen and save to your computer, phone or other device and can attach it to any email you might need to send. But you will need access to a printer if you wish it printed.


0344 576 5326

Available every day of the week between these times: 10am - 12noon, 2pm - 4pm and 7pm - 9pm.

Calls cost the same as other standard landline numbers (starting 01 or 02). If you have a call package for your landline or mobile phone then calls will normally come out of your inclusive minutes.