Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Cognitive Issues

What is Cognition?

Cognition refers to a whole range of different intellectual processes our brains undertake to perform tasks and keep us functional. An easy way to understand cognition is to think of it in terms of memory and thinking.

When we can think clearly and remember things well, our cognitive ability is good since we have the information immediately to hand.

If either memory, or thinking were somehow disrupted, then our ability to process information would be impaired.

Description of the how we use our cognitive skills:

  • to focus, maintain and divide attention (concentration)
  • to learn and remember new things
  • to think, reason and solve problems
  • to plan, carry out and monitor our own activities
  • to understand and use language
  • to recognize objects and assemble things together
  • to judge distances (spatial skills)


Cognitive Problems and Difficulties

Cognitive problems and difficulties associated with multiple sclerosis are more common than was once thought. Previously, it was thought that multiple sclerosis was purely a physical disorder and that intellectual and mental functioning were left virtually intact.

However, this is now known not to be the case and that at least 50% - 60% of people who develop multiple sclerosis will develop some form of cognitive dysfunction as a result. This figure may yet rise as future studies shed more light on the range and extent of cognitive dysfunction associated with multiple sclerosis.

What Is Cognitive Dysfunction?

There is no single description which fully encompasses the term, 'cognitive dysfunction'. It really applies to a whole raft of different problems and issues associated with, and related to; intellectual functioning.

For most people who develop some kind of cognitive dysfunction, usually mild; impairment typically means difficulties with thinking clearly, problems with recall (particularly very recent events) and decreased concentration.

For some, around 10% of people with multiple sclerosis, the impairment to their cognitive functioning will eventually become severe enough to significantly interfere with daily living.

What are the Signs of Cognitive Dysfunction?

Initial signs of cognitive dysfunction are typically very subtle (although this may not always be the case) and tend to be recognized retrospectively with the benefit of hindsight. It may even be noticed first by a partner or other family member.

Language processing, concentration and memory problems are the most common presentations of cognitive dysfunction.

'Finding the right words' is a common complaint relating to language use, where the person knows what they would like to say but is unable to 'find the words'.

Concentration may result in a person beginning a task, becoming distracted by another but beginning the new task before finishing the first, and so it goes on and on, until there are numerous unfinished chores or tasks.

Memory problems too, present a challenge for people with multiple sclerosis, particularly short term memory. This tends to show itself as a failure to remember basic things such as the name of a familiar item or animal, for example.

The range of cognitive dysfunctions which can be associated with multiple sclerosis:

  • Verbal fluency and language skills can be impaired
  • Intellectual reasoning can be impaired
  • Inability to learn quickly
  • Poor problem solving abilities
  • Information processing can be slowed
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor judgment


Early Symptoms

| Early Symptoms of MS |

Arms and Legs

| Foot Drop | Paralysis | Spasticity | Tremor |

Head and Neck

| Adjustment Disorder | Balance | Brain Fog | Cognitive Problems | Concentration | Depression | Dizziness | Emotions | Euphoria | Language | L'Hermittes Sign | Memory Problems | Mental Problems | Optic Neuritis | Paranoia | Psychosis | Speech Problems | Vertigo | Vision Problems |

Body and Body as a whole

| Bladder | Bowel | Fatigue | Numbness | Pain | Sexual Dysfunction | Uhthoff's Phenomenon |


Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis affects women much more frequently than men. Approx. 1.7 2:1 in the US and approx 3:2 in the UK. The ratio of white to non-white is approx 2:1.

Early Symptoms

The nature of multiple sclerosis and the vagueness of a symptom appearing here or there over time, without any apparent connection means there is a lack of data on what can accurately be considered as early symptom of multiple sclerosis... Read More