RA and brain activity/concentration

Posted , 9 users are following.

Hi, I wonder if anyone experienced reduction in concentration with RA? I know that on certain days I find it very difficult to concentrate on a specific tak, hence I jump from one taks to another and all over again. I refer to thinking related tasks, but it can be anything concentration related. Some days are better than others. Drastically. Some are really bad. So I wonder if this is something related to RA or if is this something else...

Thanks!

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  • Posted

    Hi i have what i call brain fog on most days but much worse on a flare up. Cant even remember family member names on a flare up 
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  • Posted

    Be reassured, you are not going bonkers!  I have found this troublesome and the symptoms you describe has affected my work so much that I have not been able to reliably focus for 18 months. On a good day I could handle anything and feel 'on the ball', my mental state is good and energy levels high.  On a bad day when even the simplest of tasks requires a big concentrated effort, I feel like I am in a fog and just can't seem to complete tasks or focus on anything for very long.  On days like this my energy levels are usually quite low and I can't even bring to mind the words I want to speak.  I am wondering whether it is the medication combined with the RA that brings on these bouts. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Caroline, it was strangely comforting to read this text.  My doctor thinks I have RA but I haven't been officially diagnosed and awaiting my Rheumatology appointment.  I am only on pain medication and anti inflamm's.  When I was in the middle of what my doctor thought was a flare, I had terrible forgetfulness, mainly words for what I was trying to say, just normal every day words in regular conversations.  Now, I'm on the other side and things are slowly improving, I'm finding I know I'm getting tired (before I feel tired) when I start to feel foggy and struggle with my words.  I don't know what I have, but I did feel I was losing the plot and feel less so now reading this thread x
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  • Posted

    It's something that is very common with all autoimmune-related disorders. And if you are on prednisolone it's even worse! I don't know about the DMARDs though. Are the bad days after you have had a good day and done more? There might be a connection there.
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  • Posted

    Yes, that will be the brain fog! Feels like trying to think through cotton wool,  if that makes sense! 
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  • Posted

    Hi im on predisone too so that explains the fog. Very reassuring. Thank you
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  • Posted

    What medicines are you on?  I have to take prednisone, for another auto-immune illness (PMR), which makes me very tired and I sometimes have 'brain fog' (as do many others)!  I now have the added 'pleasure' of RA - great!!!  My rheumatologist now wishes me to take Sulfalazine, which I have read can make you tired and have brain fog.  Wonderful, I'll be even more like a zombie.  The joys of getting old! (I'm 76).

    I feel soooooo sorry for all you young ones having this dreadfully debilitating illness.  I consider myself fortunate that I have started RA so late in life.

    Greetings and best wishes to you all.

    C. 💐

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  • Posted

    Hi

    This is such a helpful topic to raise and it s already been useful reading other responses.

    i think the RA makes it difficult to concentrate or focus at times. I found this when I first had symptoms As well as a great deal of fatigue. I was doing a course at the time where I was learning a lot of new things and just couldn't think as quickly as normal. But I was diagnosed quickly and put on methotrexate and that definitely affected my memory, concentration and focus on the day I take it. I had to change that day so it wasn't on a work day( work part time)

    but now, 15 months later( and several more drugs) I just cannot remember names of people and places. It s disconcerting as this wasn't a problem before. But perhaps this happens at 63 ! So now I don't know if it's the RA or meds or both. But relieved to hear someone else s problem with names.

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    • Posted

      You have to remember that the autoimmune cause of the illness isn't greatly changed by the medication which really just deals with the symptoms to a great extent - so that aspect remains. And yes - I gather from others that this is fairly common at our age wink  however much we may resent it! I have always struggled a bit with names - never forget a face but it is partly photographic memory. In the early days of my autoimmune arthritis (not RA) I really struggled to concentrate. 

      If I see things written down it is a great help in remembering them later - the same applies to being told foreign words for something. We were told on our China trip the words for several things including hello and please and thankyou - hopeless, until I saw nee hao written! At least I can now say hello!

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    • Posted

      Ah now , that s interesting-  I thought DMARD s did tackle the autoimmune bit? Thought it was like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer ie knock back the whole immune system so the auto immune response is lowered as well. I m on Rituximab which alters B cells - I thought so that auto immune response was blocked at some kind of cellular level, from what I ve read.

      Help ! - does that mean both age and illness are against me?!!! There s not a lot of hope then that my name remembering skill will return!

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    • Posted

      They tackle part of the autoimune bit - they stop the actual damage to joints which is why they are called Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs. But the other effects of the immune system disorder often continue - leading to the fatigue and so on. In some cases a drug may work for a while and then stop having an effect - and another must be tried. And a given drug doesn't work for everyone. Each drug attacks one element in a whole cascade of things that happen - it may not be a bit of the path that's gone wrong in you.

      It isn't known how some of them work - just that they DO work to make the long term effects of RA less serious. In the same way, it isn't entirely clear exactly what is going on to cause the inflammation in cell damage - although the development of mabs like rituximab might eventually provide an insight into what actually causes RA. They have direct and indirect effects - so it is a mix of things that leads to the improvement.

      The Holy Grail is the development of a drug that will readjust what has gone wrong with the immune system to make it attack your own body - but there are obviously so many different things it isn't very likely I think.

      You can probably train yourself to be able to remember names again - but you know, there are a lot of people who struggle to remember names even without being on medication! 

      I suppose how you look at it - being young means you are more likely to experience progress in the development of drugs or even a cure. And you are way ahead of people a bit older than you who developed JRA as children when there was nothing available to arrest the joint destruction - have you ever come across the blog by Lene Andersen called the Seated View (I just struggled to remember her name!)? Another one worth reading is rawarrior by Kelly Young - lots of founded info and how another young woman gets on with RA.

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    • Posted

      I do count myself fortunate to have a prompt diagnosis and aggressive treatment which I hope is working at the moment and realise so many of you on this site have been living with this disease for a long while.

      Some of the difficulty is the fine line between accepting and not accepting limitations- well actually you have accept limitations, but it still helps your state of mind to find good strategies to cope with physical, emotional and mental limitations and not feel completely overwhelmed with them.

      i already knew about rawarrior and lots of interesting research she keeps up to date with. The other one I ll look up. Thanks for info.

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    • Posted

      I don't have RA, I have another inflammatory arthritis - but I love rawarrior and the stuff she posts. 

      You have learnt what is perhaps the first really important lesson - many people waste a lot of energy fighting the limitations because they won't accept them. It's energy far better devoted to developing the strategies - you've put it so well. I think forums can be so important just from that aspect - how do others get round something that is a problem? Or maybe they are triggered to think about something they had just abandoned and mourned.

      All the best!

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  • Posted

    Thanks, guys. Good (well, questionalby good) to know that I am not alone. @constance66322 - I am not 40 yet, so yes, it's probabbly good to be diagnosed as senior as possible, but the life still goes on. I was diagnosed over a decade ago, carrying this with me for probably 20 years at least. 

    @helen263490, @caroline11899, @EileenH, @lrevenden, @Rowbirdie - it's really sad to think through fog. It's a very good description of the feeling actually. Still looking for ways to make things better. Had a brain MRI because along with other lovely RA sympthoms it looked like a tumor... I wish I had a better explanation for this fog and fatigue than just "that's the way it is with RA" (my reumy does not accept this as a valid explanation, btw. she claims that it's something else not related to RA). As said, life still goes on, through fog or not. You learn to appreciate "shiny" days more, I guess... :-)

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