Memory Loss in Fibromyalgia – Is it real?

BY TIFFANY VANCE-HUFFMAN

If you have fibromyalgia then you probably feel like your mind is slowly slipping away while your body has turned against you. The experience of memory loss in fibromyalgia is very real, and it can be frightening.

It is important to know that what you are experiencing is real, but is a result of a natural reaction of the body to the stress caused by fibromyalgia. It is something that can be handled and you can regain your composure, and your ability to function at a level that is much better than where you may be now.

How does it affect memory?

Many people report that they experience memory loss during the course of their experience with fibromyalgia. What is uncertain is whether this is a symptom of fibromyalgia, or if it is a result of the stress of the constellation of symptoms that this chronic disease can present. There is also the possibility that some of the common and popular medications used to relieve fibromyalgia can cause memory loss too.

Memory loss versus the “fibro fog”

The term memory loss refers to a very specific deterioration of brain processes. What many people experience with fibromyalgia, and is considered one of the hallmarks of the disease, is a loss of focus and concentration. A loss of focus and concentration is not memory loss, although it can be a part of a condition that can exist with memory loss. The loss of focus and concentration is often called the “fibro fog”, where people feel like they can never really “wake-up” or connect with the world. This may be more of a result of the cumulative effect of chronic pain on memory and thinking that would fit with the constellation of symptoms found with fibromyalgia.

The cumulative effect of chronic pain on memory

All pain, inflammation, infection and illness is a stress upon the body. When the body is under stress it does not care what the cause of the stress is, or even whether it is a good type of stress (such as proposing marriage). The body will react in the same way by releasing hormones such as cortisol. When you have a condition with chronic pain or inflammation, the body is always under stress and is releasing constant stress hormones. The body cannot process the hormones quickly enough and the buildup in the system can then lead to memory loss in fibromyalgia. Control the pain and inflammation, and you can help to reduce the stress reaction and improve your focus and concentration.

What are the best treatments for fibromyalgia?

A wonderful way to help beat memory loss with fibromyalgia is to learn to meditate. You can meditate to decrease your fibromyalgia symptoms, and it will also improve your overall mental and emotional health too. Meditation can help you to manage your pain, improve your thinking and give you a needed break from the stress of chronic illness. Another highly recommended treatment is to engage in yoga, qi gong or tai chi. These are exercise methods that have an emphasis on circulation and breathing, plus they will help you to maintain a healthy body weight too.

When will there be a cure?

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia currently. Scientists are just starting to understand some of the ways that it works within the body and this is helping them to shape better treatments so that you don’t have to suffer from the disease. There are many things that you can do with lifestyle changes, as well as effective medicines and alternative treatments too. What will work for you may not be what will work for someone else. If you have other conditions that you need to take care of you need to make sure that your care is coordinated so that treatments for one disorder don’t complicate the symptoms of another as well. It is also important that you and your treatment team revisit your treatments in light of recent findings so that you are always taking advantages of the latest discoveries made about effective treatment of fibromyalgia.

Can anyone get it?

While fibromyalgia is primarily found in women between the ages of 40 and 60, it has been diagnosed in men as well. Doctors now think that the symptoms of fibromyalgia in men may not be as easily recognizable as they are in women. Most of the research has centered on women, but that is slowly changing. It is not known why someone develops fibromyalgia but there are a few markers in your medical and family history that may indicate an increased risk of developing the disorder. If anyone in your family has it, you do have a higher risk of developing it. Also, there is a correlation between brain injury and fibromyalgia that is just being recognized and explored now. Also, certain diseases, illness and disorders can raise your risk as well. Your best bet is to get as full and complete a family history, and your own medical history, together when you see your doctor about your symptoms.

What should I do?

If you are experiencing symptoms that you think may be fibromyalgia it is important that you see your doctor. They will eliminate the possibility of your symptoms being from another illness so you can pursue proper treatment. If you are experiencing memory loss in fibromyalgia it is important that you talk to your doctor. You need to first look at whether it can be aside effect of a medication you are on, and if not, develop a plan to help you retain your memory or compensate for areas in which you have difficulty. Fibromyalgia is a chronic and life-long condition, but it is not terminal. It is also something that much progress has been made in understanding how to relieve you symptoms. You don’t have to suffer, and if you are experiencing memory loss, you don’t have to live with fear – talk to your doctor and find out what you can do.

Further reading

Fibromyalgia: What You Need to Know: www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-what-you-need-to-know-10/short-term-memory-problems

Cognitive Memory Loss: Fibromyalgia Brain Fog: knoji.com/cognitive-memory-loss-fibromyalgia-brain-fog

Mental Effects of Fibromyalgia: www.livestrong.com/article/166607-mental-effects-of-fibromyalgia

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