Fibromyalgia: How this Affects Cognitive Function

For those who suffer from fibromyalgia, they often find that the pain becomes so intense at times that it affects other aspects of their health, not only their physical bodies.

For many people, they start to find that are having issues with their cognitive function. Is this due to the pain? The constant state of feeling tired?

Many people who suffer from this believes that it is a combination of these two things along with all the inner workings that happens when fibromyalgia is present in the body.

For those who have just recently been diagnosed, understanding all the aspects of fibromyalgia is going to be knowledge that you can use to help ensure that you are doing all that you can in order to not let this illness take over your life.

What is Cognitive Function?

First things first, you must understand what cognitive function is. Cognitive function is basically the reasoning, memory, attention and language skills that you have that leads to your level of knowledge.

These are all cerebral activities. For example, when you watch a documentary, your memory holds the information and then you can later relate this to someone else.

The problem with those who suffer from fibromyalgia, is that they often notice their cognitive functions are not what they used to be.

Problems with Cognitive Function for Fibromyalgia Patients

What are the problems that these fibromyalgia patients are noticing?

There are several, but they include:

  • Inability to remember new information
  • Troubling recalling information that they should know
  • Being unable to think as clearly as they once did

A recent study of the impact on cognitive thinking from fibromyalgia found that those patients who do have fibromyalgia often have the cognitive thinking as someone who is twenty years older than they are.

This is disturbing for many patients with fibromyalgia, as they worry that this could lead to them having even more troubled lives.

Why is Cognitive Functioning Impacted?

The number one question that most fibromyalgia patients ask is why is their cognitive functioning being impacted by the fibromyalgia? There are several thoughts on how to answer this. And due to the research, that is still being done, any of these theories could be the true reason.

1- The first theory is that the depression plays a huge role in cognitive functioning. Most of those patients who have fibromyalgia are affected by depression.

After all, these people went from having no pain to being affected every day. In addition, they may now have to do things differently in order to function daily. Many people become less social due to this illness and depression sets in.

2- Sleep disturbances are common in those who have fibromyalgia. For many reasons, those who are suffering from this often cannot get a good night’s sleep which results in the person being tired almost all the time.

Due to the level of tiredness, many people believe that this affects their mental clarity. This makes sense, as sleep deprivation has been blamed on many people being unable to perform as mentally sound as they could if they had a good night’s sleep.

3- The pain of fibromyalgia is probably the most common theory that medical professionals believe in. For many people, the pain never really stops even with the medications that can be taken.

Thus, many people are mentally expending a lot of their energy in functioning without this pain interfering. For most medical professionals, they believe that this process of dealing with the pain takes away the person’s ability to have the cognitive function that they once had.

Future research has to be done in order to determine if the pain is the main cause of this, or if it is a combination of all these theories that affect the fibromyalgia sufferer.

Cognitive Function & Fibromyalgia

How Can You Lessen the Impact?

Once people understand the connection between cognitive functioning and fibromyalgia, they often wonder if there are things that they can do in order to lessen the impact or at least function at the highest possible rate.

There are a few tips that you can utilize in your life that could help.

1- Avoid the caffeine. While it is almost second nature to reach for caffeine when you feel the brain fog creeping up, caffeine for fibromyalgia patients can cause more pain in the long run.

Therefore, avoid the second or third cup of coffee. It is not worth it to be more alert for a few minutes and be in more pain the next day.

2- Make lists! While you may be forgetful due to the fibromyalgia, you can lessen the impact that this has on your life.

Make a list of things that you need to do, important dates to remember, your grocery list and the like. Many fibromyalgia patients find it helpful to download list making apps on their phone so they always have these within reach.

3- Try to work when you are the most alert. This can be harder for those who have a traditional job. But, for those who may be in a creative position, they may find it best to make their own hours.

Some fibromyalgia patients find that he early morning is the best, while others prefer the afternoon once they have really woken up.

4- Try mental exercises, read something that is of interest. It not only is going to help you relax, but it can also be a great way to keep your mind sharp.

5- Be sure to physically exercise. Physical exercise is not only going to help with concentration levels, but it can be a great way to help with flexibility and pain issues associated with fibromyalgia.

For those who do have fibromyalgia, when they start to have memory issues and trouble concentrating, they often think that there is a more serious problem.

However, research is showing that this is associated with fibromyalgia. The best thing you can do is to talk with your doctor and perhaps find a root cause and go from there.

2 Comments

Leave a Comment