Most FM patients report having problems with memory and cognitive functioning. The cognitive functioning difficulties FM patients must cope with include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty with concentration
- Inability to retain what is read
- Word-finding difficulty
- Inability to calculate numbers
- Slowed comprehension
- Impaired speech
- Inability to keep track of things
- Problems with reasoning
FM patients have coined the term “fibro fog” to describe their cognitive functioning problems. It’s an accurate description because it feels as if your brain is in a thick fog, unable to “see” its surroundings.
One problem that many FM sufferers encounter from time to time is problems with their speech. This is something that they find difficult to deal with to begin with but through time the problem is one that occurs and the sufferer and those around them learn to live with.
How Does FM Affect Speech?
One of the main problems with FM is that it is a condition that more often than not has no visual symptoms. There are no bandages or plasters to be seen and the problem is one that affects the internal workings of the body but, sometimes the brain struggles to process all of the information that is being sent to it. This is often the case when the individual is suffering from what is known as a ‘flare up’.
A ‘flare up’ is a bout of pain or discomfort associated with the condition which may last a few hours, a few days, a few weeks or even a few months, depending entirely on how severe the nature of the individual’s Fibromyalgia is.
As the brain struggles to deal with the signals coming from the myriad of pain receptors which are being bombarded by the FM so to the brain struggles to process cognitive tasks such as memory recall and speech.
What Was It I Was Going to Say?
This is often a thought that runs through a FM sufferer’s mind. It is not uncommon for a sufferer to forget what they were saying in mid-sentence and indeed it is not uncommon for them to jumble up words whilst they are speaking or to forget names and events that they could remember only a short time before.
This is, as we have already touched upon, due to the fact that the brain is struggling to cope with the amount of information being sent to it by the pain receptors located in and around what are known as the ‘trigger points’. These trigger points are the areas of the body which are most susceptible to FM.
Take Your Time
It is important to relax and go at your own pace. This not only applies to walking, sitting, standing or other everyday tasks but speaking as well. If you feel you are having difficulty speaking then slow down, take deep breaths and relax.
Likewise it is important to explain to those around you the nature of your condition and also the fact that it can sometimes – not necessarily all the time – but sometimes have a knock on effect to your short term memory and also your speech.
FM sufferers may also experience disorientation as part of their cognitive dysfunction.
What Causes Disorientation?
Disorientation can be caused by a number of factors of which – as always with FM! – there is no known cure. Some individuals simply feel light headed when they stand up or experience a sensation of lights dancing in their eyes. These sensations are similar to those experienced during migraine headaches.
When these symptoms occur it is best to sit down or lie down again and wait until the symptoms subside. More often than not the symptoms do subside within a few minutes.
When an individual experiences disorientation it does not always mean they have no comprehension of where they are or what they have been doing – it can equate to a sudden loss of balance, a feeling of nausea and a sharp headache which centres itself near the front of the head.
This disorientation may last only for a few moments or anything up to an hour but it is important that if you do experience it you stop what you are doing straight away.
It cannot be emphasised enough that if you experience anything similar to these symptoms, STOP working with heavy or dangerous machinery if you are doing so.
You should consult your doctor as soon as these symptoms appear and give him or her as much information as you can in relation to the events which led up to the symptoms appearing and how long they lasted. Your doctor will ask you questions as to the nature of any medication or alcohol you may take and it is imperative that you any these questions as honestly as you can.
Sometimes these symptoms of disorientation can be a pre-cursor to the onslaught of a migraine headache. Anyone who has ever suffered a migraine headache can tell you just how unpleasant and painful they can be and such headaches also affect balance and vision. Indeed many FM sufferers tend to suffer from headaches and stress-related headaches such as migraine.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe some medication for you for these headaches but undoubtedly your best course is to consult your pharmacist who will be able to offer advice as to which medication is best to alleviate the effects of a migraine headache.
For sufferers of such headaches lying down in a darkened room can often bring relief within a short time although some sufferers can have migraine headaches for days. Again if these headaches persist you should consult your doctor and give them as much information as you can relating to their symptoms and duration.
Over the Counter Remedies
In the event that medication is needed then you should only take the recommended dose as and when the instructions advise. If in any doubt as to the nature of medications or their usage consult your doctor or pharmacist before continuing with any course of treatment.