Brain fog—fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating—is a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Learn how to clear the fog here. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that occurs when your body's immune system—designed to fight off infections and foreign substances—targets your own cells instead. RA frequently attacks joints throughout the body,
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that occurs when your body's immune system—designed to fight off infections and foreign substances—targets your own cells instead. RA frequently attacks joints throughout the body, but it can also affect your brain. This "brain fog" can show up as difficulty concentrating, memory issues, trouble learning, and a depressed mood.
This article discusses brain fog that can occur with rheumatoid arthritis, including symptoms, risk factors, causes, and tips for handling it.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system. Proteins called cytokines play a large role in the excess inflammation and structural damage that occurs in the joints with RA. Cytokines also play a role in raising levels of inflammation in the brain, which causes brain fog with RA.
When inflammation increases in the brain, it interferes with the function of neurotransmitters—chemical messengers that send messages between nerves in your brain.
Depression associated with rheumatoid arthritis can also contribute to brain fog. Around one-third of people with RA will experience depression.
In technical terms, brain fog is called "cognitive dysfunction." Symptoms of brain fog with RA include:
Certain risk factors can make you more likely to have brain fog when you have rheumatoid arthritis. These include:
While you might not be able to prevent brain fog if you have rheumatoid arthritis, there are things you can do to help cope with your symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that not only attacks your joints, but can lead to brain fog. Cognitive issues can develop when proteins called cytokines increase inflammation in your brain. Symptoms include memory loss, difficulty paying attention, mood swings, confusion, fatigue, and even depression. Treatment includes healthy lifestyle behaviors and sometimes medication changes.
Rheumatoid arthritis can take a toll on you—not just physically, but also mentally. Brain fog can be particularly frustrating, but you don't have to settle for poor quality of life. Take steps to clear you head by following a consistent schedule, staying active, and getting good sleep. Discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider to see if medication changes could help.
Most of all, remember that you are not alone—consider joining a support group for additional tips for managing RA and brain fog.
Brain fog can cause confusion, difficulty paying attention, mood swings, memory loss, and trouble communicating.
Rheumatoid arthritis can attack your nervous system, causing neurological symptoms such as pain, mood swings, headaches, depression, and nerve damage.
RA can cause mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Chronic pain and disability from RA can also lead to feelings of hopelessness.