Thursday, December 04, 2008 Jeanne, Community Member, asks

Q: Does anyone with RA feel foggy in the head?

I was just recently diagnosed w/what appears to be RA, as hand xrays show bone erosions in my wrists.  My chief complaint is eye soreness, where my eyes feel sore when I move them in all directions.  I also feel fogginess in my head off and on, with frequent headaches, similar to migranes.  Anyone feel the same eye pain?

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Answers (4)
Lene Andersen, Health Guide
12/ 8/08 11:45am

I'm sorry you've received this diagnosis - it's not always easy to live with, but I want to assure you that you do find a way to most of the time focus on what's really important: your life, the people you love and everything else.


RA can affect the eyes, particularly making your eyes very dry and it's important to get an annual eye check with an ophthalmologist, to make sure you haven't developed any RA-related illnesses of the eye and if you do, that they get treated as soon as possible. You don't mention what kind of medication you're on, but many of the disease modifiers and painkillers used for RA can make your eyes, skin and mouth very dry and when your eyes are dry, it hurts to move them, so this may be what's going on with you. I'd suggest that you make an appointment to see your family doctor as soon as possible, just to get them checked (and referral, if you need one) and in the meantime, buy some artificial tears at your local pharmacy or grocery store and put them in your eyes at least four times a day, more if you need it. While you're at the doctor, make sure s/he checks your blood pressure and mention the headaches. If you have just received the diagnosis, you are most likely pretty stressed out and your headaches may be an indication of that. It's also possible that if you're on medication, it may be a side effect related to the meds and that your body will adjust to over time. Still, you should discuss it with your doctor.


While you're at your doctor's, talk to them about the fogginess in your head, as well. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor about new, weird symptoms, but one of the things you'll eventually discover about having a chronic disease is that you often get new, weird symptoms and you will learn which need you to go to the doctor and which you can ignore. Having a fuzzy brain is quite normal when you have pain. Coping with pain takes a lot of physical and mental resources and the more pain you have, the less is left over for dealing with other things. On days when you have a lot of pain and things are foggy, try to give yourself as much rest as you can and know that it's usually temporary. As well, fatigue and a bit of mental fuzziness are quite common side effects of RA medication, such as methotrexate and Humira - they're worst around the time you take the meds and after a couple of days, you get you brain back. You get used to it and you learn to manage it, just as you manage the other aspects of your disease.


mkmac4, Community Member
12/ 5/08 3:05pm

It can happen as RA can attack the eyes as well as the brain.

Debra, Community Member
12/ 6/08 11:16pm

I've had RA for about five years, when I have a flare-up (like right now) I get what I call "fever brain" where I'm foggy, a bit stupid, and feel on the verge of a headache. I also have some eye poblems, mostly dryness and a feeling that I really need to take out my contact lenses, even though I haven't worn them for years.

       I've maxed out methotrexate on its own and am anxiously awaiting insurance approval for Enbrel. I'm hoping to get my brain back soon.

Arlene, Community Member
1/ 7/09 9:09pm

I've had RA for about 8 years, in the last couple of years I've had more problems with my eyes. It too four doctors to get the right eye drops to help. I can now even read a little.

Lately my biggest problem is the fogginess. I feel like I don't even have a brain anymore. I make so many mistakes at work, I don't know why they keep me. I don't know if I should start looking into disability or not.

Does anyone else have this problem, if so how do you handle it?


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By Jeanne, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/22/10, First Published: 12/04/08