Signs That Cognitive Function is Declining From Multiple Sclerosis


Guest Post from Jessica T.

Knowing that cognitive decline is a possible symptom of multiple sclerosis, you may catch yourself second guessing whether forgetting someone's name or having difficulty recalling a word is normal or not. Since cognitive decline occurs over time, rather than overnight, it can be hard to pinpoint when it starts to occur.

Not everyone with multiple sclerosis experiences cognitive decline. Is it estimated that between 35 percent and 60 percent of patients suffer from decline, where only a small percentage have the dysfunction interrupt daily living. For those who have even mild cognitive dysfunction, it can be a scary experience. While the best way to know for sure is to talk to your doctor, if you suspect you may be experiencing cognitive decline, be aware of the signs:

  • Memory problems, such as forgetting names or words. Experiencing memory problems is the most common form of cognitive dysfunction. Keeping a journal to chart how often it occurs can help you see if it is getting worse over time.
  • Forgetting to do things in your agenda. We all forget appointments occasionally, but if you are consistently forgetting to do routine things during your day, it may be a sign of cognitive decline. This is especially true if you notice it occurring more frequently, or if you did not previously have trouble remembering appointments.

  • Losing your train of thought easily.

  • Difficult planning or making complex decisions.

The University of Florida's Department of Neurology has an online memory test that can help you evaluate how your memory rates.

If you are experiencing any of the problems above, bring them up with your doctor. They may be signs that your cognitive function is declining, or they may be unrelated to your multiple sclerosis altogether. If you are experiencing MS-related cognitive problems, your doctor will be able to tell you what the next steps are.