Cognition and cognitive symptoms

7 June 2017

Source MS Trust

Do you struggle to find the right word at times? Or do you perhaps go into your kitchen to fetch something and don't remember what you were meant to get? About half of all people with MS have some degree of problem at some time with aspects of thinking - memory, attention span, planning, decision making, understanding or concentration.  

Cognition is the term that covers all these aspects and these symptoms are referred to as cognitive problems. Cognitive issues can arise early in the course of the condition, but the longer you have had MS the more likely problems are to occur.

For most people the symptoms are relatively mild and can fluctuate from day to day, so initially you may not recognise them as an aspect of your MS and put them down to other reasons such as stress, overwork, tiredness or just getting older. Cognitive issues can be made worse by other symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, or even some medications.

The most common cognitive problems experienced by people with MS are poor memory and trouble concentrating, which they often describe as 'brain fog' or 'fuzziness'. Research suggests that cognitive symptoms usually stay the same over several years, or only very gradually worsen, giving you time to develop strategies to compensate for any difficulties.  Read on.

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