Fibromyalgia is a confusing condition and one that most people don’t know much about. This potentially debilitating syndrome has many different symptoms and consequences in the lives of sufferers.
Chronic pain is perhaps the most impactful and common factor with this particular ailment. However, other symptoms can present themselves in those diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Does fibromyalgia cause speech problems?
While fibromyalgia usually manifests as chronic pain in muscles and soft tissues, patients diagnosed with this condition report many difficulties with cognitive functions.
Many of these results in speech issues, including slurred speech, difficulty thinking of a specific word, memory loss, and a hard time concentrating.
Many sufferers call this fibro-fog as if their brains were somehow in a foggy state where it’s hard to see or think things clearly. Communication issues result from this.
Linguistic Impairment as a Symptom
Linguistic impairment can be a symptom of both fibromyalgias, also known as FMS, and also chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME/CFS.
If you’re having this particular symptom, it’s important not to self-diagnose yourself solely based on one symptom.
Fibro-fog issues have a lot of overlap with known speech disorders but an exact connection isn’t yet known.
Speech difficulties with FMS act a lot like the speech disorders of dysphasia and aphasia. Noun recall is a problem for those conditions, whereas some fibromyalgia research demonstrates noticeable delays in recalling names.
Why Does This Happen?
Medical researchers haven’t yet determined the cause behind FMS causing language impairment.
Sufferers of dysphasia and aphasia usually have brain injuries or tissue degeneration due to things like stroke. Yet, there is no available evidence that fibromyalgia triggers this kind of neural degeneration.
While the specific cause hasn’t been identified yet, there are theories being looked into. They include:
- Mental distraction because of pain
- Premature brain aging
- Brain abnormalities
- Atypical cranial blood volume
- Abnormal cranial blood flow
- Lack of sufficient restorative sleep
Symptoms and consequences of fibro fog tend to improve when fatigue and pain levels are handled effectively.
On the other hand, if you have trouble managing your condition, then talk to your doctor about options in alleviating your cognitive ailments. They might include:
- Dietary adjustments
- Stress management
- Cognitive training
Quality of Life Impact
Language difficulties can be frustrating to anyone, and they’ll downright embarrass many. Unfortunately, they disrupt conversations whenever they happen, and their timing can be unpredictable. In periods of stress, they can actually be worse than usual.
Difficulty ineffective communication can quickly translate into difficulty maintaining:
Relationships: Communication is crucial in any relationship, whether it’s romantic, family, or friendship. Difficulty communicating can turn into a lack of communication, and the related health can suffer just as much as your physical or mental health already is.
Employment: Professionals with cognitive impairments are not always treated well in the workplace. Some employers will be understanding, but they might not all be so forever. Others might actually restrict your hours pass you over for deserved promotions.
Reputation: Your personal reputation can suffer dramatically from speech difficulties. Those who don’t know you or what you’re going through might think you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Others might even assume that you’re intellectually challenged or disabled.
In serious cases, the actual anxiety around the problem leads to a total fear of communication. That leads to withdrawal from social connections and leads to loneliness, perhaps even depression.
Coping With This
Considering how the anxiety and stress of this condition can reinforce a downward spiral, it’s crucial to find effective means of coping with any language impairment you have.
Just alleviating the symptoms can offload the emotional burden and minimize the social impact on your life.
Potential coping mechanisms should include:
Typing Over Talking: The digital age allows for many kinds of communication. If you find that texting or emailing is easier than speaking face-to-face or over the phone, then you might want to employ such communication mediums anytime it is appropriate or possible to do so.
Get Support: Those closest to you need to know you have this symptom. They should be patient with you when it happens, or they should even be ready to assist you at times.
Request Reasonable Accommodations: Your workplace should be ready to assist you the best they can. Ask for instructions to be given to you in writing rather than delivered verbally.
Jot Things Down: Writing things down by hand can keep the linguistic portions of your brain active and engaged without having to speak all the time. Having notes about things to do and places to be can also reduce the anxiety that is associated with fibro fog.
Exercise Gently: The concept of any exercise when you are in chronic pain and fatigued all the time might not seem very appealing to you, but if you do it gently and regularly, you can accomplish many benefits. Exercise is wonderful for the brain, you can work out your tissue soreness, and you can build up muscle for more energy.
Hot Soaking: Whether the water is hot or just lukewarm, a nice relaxing bath can soothe a lot of the issues that come with fibromyalgia in general. Remember, the more you cope with the physical pain and discomfort, the more your speech difficulties should resolve along the way.
Other Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
If you’re having speech difficulties, then you need to certainly address them. However, you shouldn’t automatically assume that if you have trouble speaking, you’re exhausted, and you’re in pain, that you have fibromyalgia.
Only a qualified doctor can diagnose this condition, but there are other symptoms you should watch out for that you can report to medical personnel for better analysis:
- Pain and tenderness are felt throughout your muscles and other soft tissues.
- Hypersensitivity to sound, light, heat, cold, smell, and touch are possible.
- Abnormal pain processing is a common problem since fibromyalgia is a disorder of the central nervous system.
- Migraines and headaches are common and chronic among fibromyalgia patients.
- All-over body aching as if you have the flu can be how this condition manifests its pain.
- Digestive disturbances can include diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
- Fibromyalgia tends to hurt its sufferers in all quadrants of their bodies. These are your left and right sides and below and above your waist. Not all four might get hit at the same time, however.
- Sleep issues can result in fibromyalgia patients that get very little time in deep sleep stages.
- Fatigue is one of the hardest symptoms to actually describe to others since everyone is familiar with being tired.
Does fibromyalgia cause speech difficulties? In some patients, it reportedly does.
- Specific causes of speech difficulties are not yet known by researchers.
- Left untreated, fibro-fog speech problems can seriously reduce your quality of life.
- Treatment for the general chronic fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia usually have a positive impact on speech issues, too.
- Coping mechanisms specifically for speech issues can restore or maintain quality of life.
For more information about this or to get officially diagnosed and treated, consult your family physician