From getting enough sleep to doing brain exercises, there are steps you can take to preserve and possibly improve your cognitive health.
By Quinn Phillips Medically Reviewed by Samuel Mackenzie, MD, PhD
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re probably aware of the wide range of symptoms that could develop over the course of your disease. Some, such as fatigue, spasticity, and walking difficulties, are well-known, whereas others, such as cognitive issues, are less commonly discussed.
Over half of all people with MS will develop problems with cognition at some point, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Usually, but not always, these changes are mild, and they don’t necessarily correspond to how severe your physical symptoms are. They can occur in anyone who has MS but are more common in people who have had the disease a long time.
As you might expect, cognitive changes are associated with the number and location of brain lesions seen on an MRI, as well as brain atrophy (shrinkage). These changes may become noticeable in different ways, such as:
- Trouble finding or remembering words
- Forgetting what to do in your home or work routine
- Trouble making decisions or judgments
- General difficulty with your job or school performance
- There’s a widespread but mistaken belief that not much can be done about cognitive changes in MS. There are many things you can do to potentially improve your cognitive health.
Most of the actions you can take won’t interrupt or slow the disease process that’s contributing to your symptoms, but your brain is a complex organ that’s affected by numerous processes in your body, and changing any one of these can have an impact on your brain health.
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