Living with Fibro

Cognitive Functioning & Fibro

Despite the fact that we have many technological advancements at our fingertips, we are busier than ever, right? Chances are that you have had so many things on your mind that you have put cold things in the cupboard.

We’ve all done something like this at some point- especially when we’re stressed out. The truth is that misplacing things or having a hard time concentrating on things is normal.

However, for individuals with the condition of fibro, these problems can be much more severe and occur much more frequently.

The problem that individuals with fibro experience is often referred to as “brain fog” or “fibro fog.” It is a foggy feeling within their mind and often triggers anxiety as well- which increases the cognitive dysfunction.

It ends up being a never-ending cycle. “Fibro fog” is very overwhelming, frustrating, and frightening- and it can cause interference with your overall quality of life.

The best way to cope with it is to learn how you can reduce the occurrence of fibro flares in order to ensure your personal emotional and mental well-being.

“Fibro Fog” Symptoms

Individuals who suffer from fibro often report “fibro fog” symptoms such as losing their train of thought, feeling confused, being forgetful, and mixing up their words.

In addition, these individuals state that “fibro fog” keeps them from being able to express themselves in writing and conversation and can have an effect on their overall concentration.

It keeps them from being able to complete complex mental tasks and making plans. They also may experience bouts of dyslexia.

Fibro is often also characterized by extreme fatigue along with the condition of “fibro fog”- which can lead to irritability. If you think that you are having difficulties with “fibro fog”, there is hope- there are some things you can do to deal with it.

“Fibro Fog” Causes

In order to understand how to manage your “fibro fog” symptoms, you must first learn what causes them. Medical researchers are looking at the connections between the condition of “fibro fog” and other issues such as fatigue, anxiety/depression, chronic pain, and sleep difficulties.

One of the most popular trains of thought is that the problems of “fibro fog” are often due to depression and sleep deprivation- both of these can have an effect on cognitive functioning.

Additionally, research indicates that chronic pain may have an effect on the brain- it has shown that the areas of the brain that are affected by the pain don’t “shut off” when they should, which causes an imbalance in the neurons and other chemicals in the brain.

Tips to Control “Fibro Fog”

As mentioned, there are some things you can do to control your symptoms of “fibro fog.” They are as follows:

Get adequate sleep: of course, even in those individuals without fibro, not getting enough sleep can have an effect on your ability to think.

However, many times, individuals with fibro have a harder time falling and staying asleep. The less sleep you are getting, the more your fibro symptoms (including “fibro fog”) will flare.

The best way to get more sleep is to figure out what it is that is keeping you awake. Work with your physician to find this out and learn to manage it.

Get adequate exercise: while you would think exercise would wear you out, it actually can serve to help increase energy levels and therefore, lift the “fibro fog.” When you are physically active, oxygen and blood flow to the brain is increased, which helps to improve memory, learning, and concentration.

However, before you begin a new exercise regimen, speak with your physician about what is recommended. Start out slow, gradually building up. Whatever you do, make it fun- start exercising with friends and/or family.

Don’t do the same thing every day- this prevents you from becoming bored, which is one of the reasons that people stop.

There are many benefits of exercising: strengthening bones and muscles, improves range of motion, helps keep weight under control, improves sleep, reduces anxiety/depression, improves overall well-being, and helps increase mood by increasing endorphin levels.

Challenge your mind: taking the time to complete a crossword or Sudoku puzzle, reading, or even seeing a play can challenge and stimulate your memory and brain.

When you allow yourself to do the same thing all the time, you literally are creating a rut in your brain because you’re using the same brain pathways all the time. Challenging your brain causes new pathways to be laid so that new information can be processed.

Practice yoga, tai chi, or meditation: as you already know, stress can aggravate the signs and symptoms of fibro, including “fibro fog.”

However, taking the time to engage in relaxing activities such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga can help to decrease symptoms associated with sleep difficulties, depression/anxiety, poor memory, and fatigue.

Other things to do: figure out which one of the following works for you- they will not necessarily work for everyone:

  1. Choose the best time to complete concentration/memory tasks.
  2. Repeat things to yourself- this can help to ingrain it into your memory.
  3. Write things down.
  4. Don’t rush- make time to pace yourself.
  5. Set goals for yourself.
  6. Do what you can to manage your surroundings.
  7. Ask for help.

Advice for Friends and Family

The problem of “fibro fog” can be an extremely stressful and frustrating one. Friends and family can help a loved one with fibro learn to manage their memory problems by:

  • Helping them break things into smaller tasks
  • Going to medical appointments with them
  • Discuss their condition openly
  • Learn as much as you can
  • Understand there are good days and bad ones

 Fibromyalgia and memory issues

Live Your Best Life

Understand that lack of sleep, pain, and depression can decrease your ability to remember things and concentrate. Therefore, getting these other symptoms treated can help you to remember better.

Taking advantage of available support and finding a physician who understands the condition can help you to develop a coping strategy and live the best life possible.  

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-what-you-need-to-know-10/short-term-memory-problems

http://www.louisianaarthritisclinic.com/our-blog/Coping-with-Fibromyalgia

About the author

Living with Fibro

9 Comments

  • not allow you to print it out for your doctor. Good information but useless in that I cannot take it to the doctor to discuss a treatment plan.

  • Currently battling Fibro fog. I came home from work early today as I was almost in tears feel like I’m loosing my mind! I can not concentrate and I’m making stupid mistakes I would never normally make. This is so frustrating!!!! My brain feels like a turtle walking in peanutbutter.

    • I can’t believe what you are going through is Exactly, & I mean Exactly what I’m currently experiencing with my Fibro & I think I’m about to lose my newly obtain employment as a result of this ???

  • This is an excellent article, which I would like to share with my husband and a few friends. Would you be able to email it to me?
    Thank you!

  • Great article and VERY true! I get stressed from the tired then can’t sleep then brain works worse…it’s a cycle. I have started coloring in those grown up coloring books they help me relax. My family is realizing this isn’t a made up thing and are kicking in a lot more. Every little bit helps!

  • Fibro fog being caused by pain, stress, anxiety, no sleep, coupled with chronic fatigue sounds like an endless cycle that gives one no quality of life at all! Having a regular fitness routine definitely gives me more energy, and improves my insomnia. When I can focus, reading does help to relax me and calms me down before bed. I try to keep clear headed and sharp by using various brain game/puzzle apps on a regular basis. Last, I have to agree that when I regularly practice yoga I find that my headspace greatly improves. I have less anxiety, less depression, etc.

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