Brain Fog in aHUS
While it’s not a classic symptom of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), brain fog is fairly common among patients with kidney-related diseases. It can affect your ability to focus, learn, retain information, and maintain employment.
aHUS is characterized by the formation of blood clots in the small blood vessels of the kidneys. These clots can damage the kidneys, leading to multiple health problems, including hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, kidney failure, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, heart disease, and seizures.
It can also cause a condition popularly known as brain fog.
About brain fog
Brain fog is marked by difficulties with focus and concentration, and memory loss. Again, it is a fairly common complaint among people with diseases affecting the kidneys, and about 80% of aHUS patients experience kidney dysfunction at some point.
Feeling “out of it” affects quality of life. Confusion or memory issues regarding appointments or medication routines can also affect care.
Episodes can hit in waves, often leaving patients unable to think clearly for hours or even days. Those who experience brain fog often complain of an inability to perform day-to-day tasks, organize thoughts, or hold a conversation. Some have problems with word choice and language, and slow and confused speech.
While cognitive dysfunction is not linked to lower intellect, it can be perplexing for those who experience it and affect their confidence and self-esteem.
What makes brain fog worse?
Just as excessive physical activity will result in muscle fatigue, protracted mental activity can cause or aggravate brain fog and related cognitive problems.
Your general state of health can also affect the severity of brain fog. Depression or anxiety, for example, are reported to exacerbate brain fog. A recent global poll of people with aHUS indicated that 27% of patients who had undergone dialysis had anxiety and depression. An estimated 68% of aHUS patients need dialysis at some point.
How can I manage brain fog?
Some find that the best way to manage brain fog is by balancing activity with rest, so to avoid becoming overwhelmed. To pace yourself, find a comfortable baseline of mental activity. Then divide it into small manageable portions, interspersed with rest or relaxation. Cease any cognitively demanding activity before you reach “mental fatigue.” Do not push yourself past the limits you have set for yourself.
If you are having issues with short-term memory loss, it might be helpful to keep lists of important things you need to do for each day. Make sure to also return often-used items, such as keys or medication, to their proper place. Instead of multitasking, focus on one activity at a time.
If you’re having a tough time coping with brain fog, you may want to discuss psychological remedies with your physician. In addition, make sure you let certain family members, friends, and co-workers know of the trouble you’re having and how they might help you to cope.
Last updated: Nov. 23, 2020
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