Cognitive impairment doesn't have to slow you down. Here's how to deal with those MS symptoms that take a toll on your mental fitness.
- Short-term memory loss. This is the most common form of cognitive impairment. You draw a blank on a familiar phone number, forget whether you took your medication, or can’t recall why you left the living room to go into the kitchen.
- Mental fatigue. Cognitive impairment can cause “brain fog” or slow thinking. “In psychological tests, MS patients have been found to tire more quickly," says Dr. Sheremata, leading them to perform less well on tests of cognitive performance.
- Distractibility. You may have a hard time focusing on what you’re doing. Some MS patients with cognitive impairment issues are easily distracted by noise, such as the television or music. It’s also difficult for them to multi-task.
- Verbal fluency problems. You may have difficulty finding the right words in conversations or get lost in a middle of a sentence. However, people with MS are able to understand words they hear and read just as well as people without MS, says Sheremata.
- Impaired planning. People with this MS symptom can have trouble planning and organizing their day. Some research shows that up 40 percent of people with MS are less able to plan than people without MS.
- Complex problems. Mental MS symptoms can impact a patient’s ability to figure out a difficult problem. “You may feel overwhelmed if a problem is too complex and may not be able to come up with alternate solutions,” explains Sheremata. This can lead to poor judgment.