As time passes, more and more people are learning about fibromyalgia and its many symptoms.
The condition is a chronic one, with sufferers often experiencing a long list of symptoms that range from widespread pain in their joints to extreme fatigue.
Most people have heard that fibromyalgia causes tiredness and pain, but what of some of the lesser-known symptoms that can result from this disease?
Patients diagnosed with this condition are often surprised to learn that symptoms such as gastrointestinal upset and skin sensitivity that they thought were completely unrelated can be attributed to fibromyalgia.
One of these seemingly unrelated fibromyalgia symptoms is dysphasia, a kind of speech impairment.
Dysphasia? What’s That?
Dysphasia can either be receptive, or it can be expressive. When someone has receptive dysphasia, they may have problems comprehending words.
Expressive dysphasia causes the opposite problem—a person struggling with it will have issues with stringing words together to make meaningful phrases or sentences.
(This is all different from apraxia, which is when someone loses their ability to carry out the motor tasks involved with speech.)
Put simply, this means that a person experiencing dysphasia may suddenly freeze, unable to think of the word they are trying to say or write.
They may come up with the wrong word instead of the one they’re searching for. When they hear or read words, they may struggle to make sense of them.
For those whose jobs require public speaking or constant communication with others, this can be especially problematic.
In the least, this can be frustrating and embarrassing; at worst, it can be frightening.
It’s likely a source of comfort to some to know that their symptoms have a name, and that dysphasia has been recognized as a speech disorder.
Dysphasia in Fibromyalgia Patients
In fibromyalgia patients, dysphasia often comes as one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia fog.
This condition, also known as “fibro fog” or “brain fog,”causes those who experience it to have trouble concentrating on things, remembering words, and having conversations.
It can also create overall memory problems. At times, people experiencing fibro fog may become disoriented and have trouble remembering where they are or where they are headed.
Multitasking can become impossible during a bout with fibro fog, as it’s easy for those dealing with it to become distracted.
These mental symptoms are all common complaints for those who have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Many fibromyalgia patients report that their fibro fog symptoms have more of an impact on their lives than the physical symptoms they experience.
Medical professionals aren’t sure why people with fibromyalgia experience these cognitive symptoms.
Many fibromyalgia patients struggle with insomnia or—when they do fall asleep—don’t spend long enough in the deep, restful stage of sleep that recharges the mind and body.
This could possibly cause problems with thinking and focusing. Some researchers think that fibromyalgia sufferers may experience abnormal blood flow to the cranium or some sort of brain abnormalities that cause effects on cognition.
Many researchers agree that people with fibromyalgia experience something called central sensitization, which causes the central nervous system to be overly sensitive and struggle to properly process information.
This problem with the central nervous system can cause sensitization throughout the body, which means an overall lower threshold for pain, as well as an increased likelihood of being overwhelmed by sensory information.
(Many people with fibromyalgia have a sensitivity to environmental factors such as bright lights and loud sounds.)
Many doctors insist that the cognitive symptoms and mental distractions of fibro fog are created from (or exacerbated by) chronic pain.
The latter does seem to hold true, as fibromyalgia sufferers report that their fibro fog is much worse when their pain levels are high. Anxiety and depression can also be a factor in decreased cognitive function.
Treatment for Fibro Fog and Dysphasia
Effective treatment for cognitive and speech symptoms lies with treating fibromyalgia in a holistic manner.
Most patients find that controlling their pain and getting plenty of rest helps lessen or control their symptoms.
An initial visit to your doctor to rule out any other cause of cognitive symptoms is important.
Once other causes have been ruled out, here are a few strategies to help lessen dysphasia.
Many fibromyalgia patients who are experiencing brain fog and dysphasia have experienced relief from taking supplements meant to improve cognitive function.
B vitamins can be useful for both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, as it helps maintain the central nervous system and helps with energy production.
B vitamins are available in injection form, as well as in tablets and a sublingual liquid.
Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and flaxseed oil) are also helpful for cognitive function, and can be found naturally in fatty fish such as salmon, or can be supplemented through fish oil capsules.
Controlling pain can be a huge help in lessening dysphasia and the other cognitive effects of fibromyalgia.
Your doctor will help you figure out what pain medications will best help control the specific symptoms you are experiencing.
In addition to medications that are specific to pain, many fibromyalgia patients see improvement from taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, as anxiety and depression can cause pain levels to skyrocket.
Many people dealing with a chronic illness forget to treat themselves the same way they’d treat a good friend or a family member who is going through the same thing.
When dealing with fibromyalgia, it’s important to avoid beating yourself up if you’re having a day where your pain is flared up or your brain simply isn’t working the way you’d like it to.
Know that what you’re experiencing isn’t a personal failure—it’s a symptom of fibromyalgia.
Have realistic expectations when setting goals and try to develop systems (both personal systems that you use to accomplish and remember things, as well as support systems through the people around you) that will help you when you’re having a bad day.