MS Cog Fog? Or Dehydration?


I thought I was having a bit of MS cog fog a few weeks ago. It’s not an uncommon occurrence for many of us with this disease. But then it got worse. Much worse … I began to realize that I was having difficulty distinguishing reality from imagination. I couldn’t tell if something was real or a dream. I began to feel dissociated from the world around me. I frankly began to wonder if this was what the beginning of mental illness felt like. I’m serious; it was that bad. I had difficulty moving and thinking, let alone trying to speak. But I was home alone, and the dogs wouldn’t have known if I was talking nonsense or eloquence. A Couple of Glasses of Water Set Me Straight I made my way to the kitchen for a glass of water, which turned into two glasses, and I began to feel better within moments. It seems that I was suffering from dehydration . When my wife, Caryn, came home from work, we discussed my experience, and she wasn’t as surprised as I was. She works in a long-term healthcare facility for people with intellectual disabilities. Proper hydration of the population is a daily concern for several health reasons, cognition being one of them. Research Confirms My Experience Then along comes a study on dehydration in progressive MS, published last month. While focusing on urinary tract infections (UTI) , which many of us with multiple sclerosis will be aware of, the researchers mentioned cognitive difficulties due to dehydration as well. The authors of the paper wrote, “Inadequate hydration potentially leads to cognitive and other functional consequences, decreases quality of life, and increases morbidity in people with MS … ” Yup, that was what I was experiencing! Since that afternoon, I have been much more conscious of my fluid intake. I try to remember to have a pint of water when I wake in the morning to get things started on a good foot. If I notice a bit of cog fog, the first thing I do is try to remember if I’ve had enough water in the day. Many times, I have not, and a few glasses of water later, I’m on more of an even keel, cognitively speaking. Some research suggests that dehydration may also be linked to increased levels of fatigue in MS. Intentional Dehydration for Bladder Control Can Backfire One of the reasons that dehydration has been a focus of study in the recent past is that many people with overactive bladders (caused by MS) down-regulate their fluid intake to try and control that symptom. The thought being, If I don’t drink so much, I won’t have to pee as often. I’ve heard of such intentional dehydration from more than a few people with MS over the years and I understand … to a point. I must say that I’d love to get a full night’s sleep without my MS-compromised bladder waking me three, four, or more times. The problem with that thinking is that many more health-related issues can surface due to improper hydration, as these studies have proved. There are other ways of managing MS-related bladder symptoms . Ways that won’t leave us susceptible to the more serious knock-on effects of not having enough water. So if you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing the mist of an MS fog, try having a tall glass of water or two and see if that doesn’t help. Then keep drinking. MS is a thirsty disease. Wishing you and your family the best of health. Cheers, Trevis My new book, Living Well With Multiple Sclerosis , is available for preorder on Amazon . Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page , and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis .


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