Managing My Ra With Medication
Controlling inflammation seems important in managing my cognitive dysfunction, although every arthritis patient is different. What works for me, medication-wise, might not be what you need. It was a journey for me to find the appropriate medication regimen, including trying multiple biologics. When you and your doctor find a regimen that is working with you, stick with it.
If you suspect any of your medications could actually be making you feel foggy , talk to your doctor about. I find that scheduling a rest period after taking
What Ra Brain Fog Feels Like
Brain fog can leave me embarrassed and infuriated with myself. It has triggered bouts of depression and caused me a lot of anxiety at really inconvenient times.
Iâm often questioning my every move:
Have I forgotten something?
Did I just make sense?
Did I make a mistake?
Do they think Iâm drunk or high?
How do I explain this to someone without them thinking I am stupid?
Brain fog caused by rheumatoid arthritis can feel all-consuming. It often plays out in these ways:
- hazy thoughts, like my head is swimming in a fog
- finding it hard to comprehend or say words, even ones we say or hear often
- difficulty focusing
Recognize Your Need For Quiet Time
Social events especially large ones, like parties and weddings can leave you drained. Dont be afraid to take some quiet time and excuse yourself from the room if youre overwhelmed. Learn what environments are too much for you, and avoid situations that may be more exhausting than they are rewarding.
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Make Your Bedroom A Sanctuary
You might need to switch your habits while you train your body into its new bedtime routines. Reading and watching TV in bed seem relaxing, but they could actually work against you, says Dr. Blazer.
That trains your brain to be wakeful in the place where you should be sleeping, she says. Curl up with a book in the living room instead, she suggests. That way, your body knows its time for brain fog-soothing sleep the moment you crawl under the covers.
Following A Healthy Lifestyle And Self
Taking good care of myself has had some of the biggest benefits on my cognitive function. This includes regular daily exercise, staying hydrated, and eating a nutrient-rich diet. Ive noticed that when I fall behind on these, my cognitive function declines. Self-care usually picks me back up. Rest regenerates me but only to a certain extent, as I still live with chronic fatigue.
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What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis Brain Fog
Research has revealed that chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases like RA may negatively affect cognitive performance.
Experts believe that several factors play a role in the development of brain fog in RA. According to the Arthritis Care & Research study, people with RA who used corticosteroids and had risk factors for heart disease were more likely to report cognitive problems. Although the relationship has also been observed in past studies, the reason these conditions may lead to brain fog remains unclear.
Other factors that may contribute to the development of brain fog and cognitive dysfunction in RA include anxiety and depression and inflammation.
Dont Let Arthritis Define You
Sure, RA is a big part of your life. But its not the only part. Its vital to learn who you are outside of RA because thats who your partner plans to date, says Christina Kantzavelos, M.S.W., a chronic illness therapist in San Diego. If youre struggling with the idea that RA makes you undesirable, work with therapist to shift your mindset. If you dont start off believing that youre worthy of a happy relationship, you might end up accepting treatment thats less than what you deserve, says Cheryl Crow, M.O.T., an occupational therapist with RA and founder of the Arthritis Life podcast in Bellevue, WA.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis And Brain Fog
Rheumatoid arthritis is best known for causing painful, swollen joints. But many people with RA say they also have to deal with symptoms like forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and difficulty thinking clearly.
A sense of mental slipping is known as brain fog. Although brain fog isnt a medical term, doctors have recognized that many people with chronic inflammatory conditions like RA have experienced it.
, nearly a third of people with RA scored low on a series of mental tasks.
Earlier research found that people with RA had more trouble on tests of memory, speaking ability, and attention than people who didnt have RA.
Thinking issues may also affect physical function, making it harder for people with RA to go about their daily activities.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Prevalence Of Cognitive Problems Memory Loss: Previous Study
A previous study carried out by So Young Shin gave rheumatoid arthritis patients various tests to measure physical, psychosocial, and biologic meters. Cognitive function was measured with the use of 12 standardized neuropsychological measures yielding 16 indices.
The results yielded that 31 percent of the 115 participants scored poorly on four of the 16 cognitive ability indices. Furthermore, many of the participants struggled with the tests of mental clarity and sharpness.
Individuals who scored lowest were more likely to come from low education backgrounds, have low income, use oral glucocorticoids, and have greater risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
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The Pain Centre Versus Arthritis
In partnership with the University of Nottingham and local NHS Trusts, Versus Arthritis supports the worlds first national centre for research into pain.
The aims of the centre are to improve our understanding of pain and ways to stop it, through existing and new treatments.
The centre has experts in rheumatology, neuroimaging, psychology, neuropharmacology, neurosciences and orthopaedic surgery.
Figure Out Your Brain Fog Patterns
Cognitive problems sometimes have a pattern, so you might be able to plan ahead. For some people, arthritis brain fog might be worst in the morning, when your joints are still warming up for others, your fuzzy mind might peak as you deal with ongoing stress throughout the day. If you can pin down a brain fog pattern, you could have success scheduling concentration-heavy tasks during the times when you expect your thinking to be the clearest, says Dr. Blazer.
Coping With Rheumatoid Arthritis Brain Fog
Coping with rheumatoid arthritis brain fog can be challenging as you may find yourself at a loss for words, confused, and simply frustrated. The good news is, there are plenty of options available for you to combat and live with rheumatoid arthritis brain fog and keep it at bay so it does not continue to negatively impact your quality of life.
Some tips to cope with rheumatoid arthritis brain fog include:
- Treat rheumatoid arthritis: Properly managing your RA can help reduce inflammation, which triggers brain bog.
- Treat RA pain: Pain reduction lowers the risk of depression and anxiety, which can contribute to brain fog. As the previous study indicated, those living with higher pain are more likely to experience brain fog, so managing your pain can offer clearer thinking.
- Rest: Get adequate and proper sleep, as poor sleep can worsen inflammation and pain and increase daytime fatigue, which can worsen brain fog.
- Eat a healthy diet: Avoid foods that can trigger inflammation like saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined carbohydrates. Some patients have found that sticking with the Mediterranean diet has offered them relief from their brain fog.
- Take care of yourself: Taking the time to take care of yourself and boost your self-esteem and confidence can help you feel better overall.
- Be organized: Leave yourself sticky notes or reminders or set alarms in case you do become forgetful.
Inflammation Ra And Dementia
While both RA and dementia are partly due to a genetic predisposition, theres another underlying cause they share: inflammation. The chronic inflammatory process for rheumatoid arthritis can affect brain inflammation, due to hardening of the arteries, says Jonathan Greer, MD, a rheumatologist at the Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates of Palm Beach and an assistant clinical professor of biomedical sciences at Florida Atlantic University. This causes decreased blood to the brain, which can lead to vascular dementia.
While the Cureus review questioned whether RA medications such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs , including methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine, may also lead to an increased risk of dementia, Dr. Greer cautions against reading too much into this. The underlying inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis may not be sufficiently controlled with these drugs, and, therefore, the inflammation itself could lead to the dementia, Greer says. Indeed, the association was not found with tumor necrosis factor agents and biologics, which are sometimes better at controlling inflammation.
No matter which treatment youre prescribed for RA, You should not be fearful, and you should never stop these drugs without your doctors permission, Greer emphasizes. If you have any concerns about your treatment, Work in a collaborative fashion with your doctor to find the best for you.
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Ra’s Effect On The Brain
Learn about the possible links between rheumatoid arthritis and cognitive effects and how to manage them.
A lot of people with rheumatoid arthritis report having trouble with memory, attention, and mental focus. They forget names and appointments, struggle to find the right words and have trouble making and carrying out plans. Some say that the loss of mental clarity, commonly called brain fog, is almost as distressing as arthritis itself.
Its hard to say exactly how common fuzzy thinking is in RA because researchers have largely ignored it.
We have relatively good literature on cognitive problems in lupus and fibromyalgia, where brain fog is well established, but nobody has really studied RA, explains Patti Katz, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Katz and her colleagues looked at 15 studies on RA and cognition published between 1994 and 2016. Many were small less than 100 patients and not all were high quality. Yet most showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis performed more poorly on cognitive tests than their peers or controls. Memory, verbal communication, attention, concentration and problem-solving seemed to cause the most trouble.
Who Gets It and Why?
There are several theories why cognitive problems may be more common in RA and other inflammatory types of arthritis.
But Katz thinks it might not be that simple.
Some factors that may contribute to brain fog include:
What the CDC Says
Brain Fog Is It All In Your Head
Symptoms such as stiffness, swelling and pain may be typical for inflammatory arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis among others. But many people often have trouble with their memory, concentrating, thinking clearly or just feeling fuzzy. This is often described as brain fog.
Although not a medical term, some potential causes for brain fog could include:
- Inflammation see further reading below: Rheumatoid arthritis: How chronic inflammation affects the brain
- Poor quality sleep or lack of sleep
- Medications that are taken for inflammatory arthritic conditions
- Depression & anxiety
Given that your condition may be causing brain fog, what can you do about it?
Tips to Manage Brain Fog
Stay organised: establish a set schedule, use reminders and planners, write lists, break tasks into smaller parts and keep items in the same place such as your car keys in a certain bowl on the bench.
Keep records: write information down on paper or ask someone to text/message/email you so you have the information to refer to.
Sleep habits: To try to get more sleep, set up a sleep routine and make your bedroom a sanctuary avoid stimuli such as having a TV in your room or using your phone/tablet just before bed.
Map your brain fog patterns: this will give you an insight into if there are times in the day/week that are worse than others you can then plan around this accordingly.
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How To Handle Brain Fog With Ra
While you might not be able to prevent brain fog if you have rheumatoid arthritis, there are things you can do to help cope with your symptoms.
- Get enough sleep:Lack of sleep can make brain fog worse. Establish a bedtime routine and stick to a regular schedule to make sure you are well-rested.
- Stay active:Exercise several times per week to help improve your mental sharpness. RA causes significant joint issues, and certain kinds of exercise can make this worse. Choose activities that take the pressure off your joints, such as riding a stationary bike or swimming. Exercise also produces endorphins in your brain, which can boost your mood.
- Explore medication options: If you suspect your brain fog is a side effect of medication, talk to your healthcare provider about other options.
- Write it down: Take notes and use a calendar to record important information to help with memory loss.
- Schedule your day: Brain fog can be worse at certain times of the day. Avoid tasks that require your full attention during these times.
- Talk it out: If you’re dealing with depression, or are overwhelmed by the symptoms caused by your RA, consider talking with a mental health professional such as a therapist.
- Reduce stress: RA symptoms, including brain fog, are often worse when you’re stressed. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your day, such as deep breathing or meditation, and make time for leisure.
Ease Into A Regular Exercise Routine
Physical activity can help reduce inflammation, improve physical function, and set you up for a good nights sleep. Start slowly, focusing on gentle movements and taking care not to overexert yourself. And, as always, talk with your rheumatologist or other health care provider before beginning any new exercise routine for RA.
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What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Really Feel Like
Living with rheumatoid arthritis is more than joint pain. Its a chronic pain, accompanied by many other symptoms, that often gets worse over time. Symptoms can come at inconvenient times without any warning which makes them difficult to manage. But what people think RA feels like and what it actually feels like are often two different things.
Possible Causes Of Brain Fog
When you see the list of RA symptoms, memory loss and focusing problems are not surprising. Pain, loss of sleep, fatigue, low mood, and the possible side effects of medication all take their toll. And RA is a risk factor for fibromyalgia, which itself is notorious for causing brain fog.
Research studies are trying to nail down the specific causes. Corticosteroids, high blood pressure and cholesterol all contribute. So do pain, depression and anxiety, and chronic inflammation.
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Be Honest About Intimacy
From pain and stiffness, to fatigue, to vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction, RA can make your sex life more challenging. Its always possible to work through these issues with your partner. The key is being open about your needs before being intimate. Ask your partner what brings them pleasure and how you can help with that, then share some of the things that you know work for you, Crow says. You may need to time sex around your medication use or symptoms, experiment with different positions, or try a lubricant or extra pillows, for instance, says Kantzavelos.
How Can We Ease Brain Fog
There are both treatments and lifestyle changes that can help people with RA reduce their brain fog.
Various medicines can reduce symptoms. Including DMARDs and biological products. Talk to your doctor for advice on your medication.
More and better sleep. Having a good sleep provides better conditions for brain fog, there are also other benefits. Read more here:
Regular exercise. The important thing is not what you do, but do something that works for the day.
A good balance between activity and recovery. Finding the balance is A and O. What works for you and what do you prefer to have for recovery in everyday life? It can be anything from a walk in the woods, a cup of tea book and blanket on the couch, meditation and rest.
Writing Things Down And Setting Reminders
I cant stress the importance of writing things down or take a photo/screenshot of something you want to remember. I have alarms and reminders set on my phone consistently. I could not for the life of me remember passwords until I wrote them down. I try to keep my house fairly simple and organized so I can find stuff easily.
Brain Fog And Cognitive Changes
Another frustrating symptom of RA is brain fog. While many people experience this type of fogginess at some point in their lives, patients with RA may experience it more frequently.
For RA patients, brain fog can feel like:
- Trouble comprehending or saying words
- Trouble focusing
Although brain fog isnt a medical term or diagnosis, doctors have known for a long time that chronic conditions like RA and multiple sclerosis can cause cognitive impairment. Its unclear how many patients with RA experience brain fog, but a pair of small studies performed in 2002 and 2004 found that between 30% and 71% of RA patients performed poorly on various cognitive tests.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that patients with RA often struggle with mental clarity and sharpness. Out of 115 participants, 31% scored poorly on four or more of 16 different measurements of cognitive ability. The study also found that patients who used corticosteroids and had risk factors for heart disease were the most likely to have cognitive dysfunction.
Other studies have suggested that the depression and anxiety that results from living with chronic pain can impair cognition. A 2010 Canadian experiment found that RA patients with high levels of pain did poorly on tests of executive function, a set of mental skills that include self-control, flexible thinking, and working memory.
There are a few ways patients with RA can cope with brain fog. These can include:
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