These issues include difficulty with memory, concentration, and problem solving, which many people refer to as “cog fog.” Memory loss is the most common mental change in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). It can occur at any time in the course of your MS. Even if you do not have physical signs of the disease, you may experience memory loss. Other factors, such as heat, stress, depression, and fatigue, can all contribute to memory problems.
How does MS impact my memory?
Evidence suggests that memory problems associated with MS occur when lesions in multiple areas of the brain break down the transmission of nerve impulses responsible for the ability to remember. There are 2 types of memory-loss problems:
Newly learned information, such as names of people you just met. It also includes things you are trying to remember for the future, like a telephone number or taking your medication. Recent memory is most often affected by MS.
Remote and procedural memory:
Information or a skill you learned a long time ago (eg, tying your shoelaces). This type of memory is not as likely to be affected by MS. Other factors such as heat, stress, depression, and fatigue can all contribute to memory problems.
Examples of memory loss include:
- Forgetting names, telephone numbers, and recent conversations
- Difficulty remembering what you just learned
- Trouble remembering why you entered the room
- Losing or misplacing things
Seven tips for dealing with memory loss due to MS:
- Assign a specific spot for items you lose frequently (like keys), and always put them back there.
- Use checklists, organizers, and journals so you remember what you need to do.
- Repeat and write down important information.
- Prioritize and focus on only the most important things of the day.
- Try to keep a set schedule.
- Do things when you think of them because you may forget later.
- Try memory games or puzzles to help “train your brain.”
You may want to be tested if you think you are experiencing memory loss. Talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and possible treatment options.