How to Manage Brain Fog When You Have EDS
While “brain fog” is not one of the most common symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), many patients report experiencing this form of cognitive dysfunction, which can affect their ability to focus, learn, retain information, and maintain employment.
What is EDS?
EDS refers to a group of genetic disorders affecting the connective tissues that provide structure to joints, skin, blood vessels, and other tissues and organs. Depending on the type of EDS, symptoms can range from loose joints to life-threatening complications. Those with hypermobile EDS (hEDS) often report experiencing brain fog.
What is brain fog?
Brain fog is defined as episodes of cognitive dysfunction that can lead to issues with verbal recall, basic math, short-term memory, and concentration. Problems with any of these mental functions can affect one’s quality of life.
Episodes of brain fog can hit in waves, often hampering the ability to think clearly for hours or even days. Those who experience it often complain of an inability to perform day-to-day tasks, organize thoughts, or hold a conversation. Some people have problems with word choice and language, and their speech might be slow and confused.
While cognitive dysfunction is not linked to diminished intellect, it can be perplexing to those who experience it, affecting their confidence and self-esteem.
What causes brain fog?
Some researchers think that brain fog in hEDS is the result of lower blood flow to the brain due to blood pooling in the lower extremities because of stretchy veins. However, more research is needed to establish this link.
What makes it worse?
Just as excessive physical activity will cause muscle fatigue, protracted mental activity may cause or aggravate brain fog and related cognitive problems.
How to I manage it?
If you experience brain fog, balance activity with rest to avoid becoming overwhelmed. To pace yourself, find a comfortable baseline of mental activity, and divide it into small manageable portions. Intersperse these with rest or relaxation. Before you reach mental fatigue, stop any cognitively demanding activity. Do not push yourself past the limitations you’ve set for yourself.
If you experience short-term memory loss, keep a list of important things you need to do for each day. Also, make sure you return items, such as keys or medications, to their designated places, and focus on one activity at a time instead of multitasking.
Ensure you have proper social and medical support. If you’re having a difficult time coping with brain fog, you may want to discuss remedies with your physician. In addition, it may help to tell family members, friends, and coworkers about the trouble you’re having and how they can help you cope.
Last updated: June 17, 2020
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