I was diagnoised with Lupus in 1994, I'm lucky as it has been in remission for a few years. Lately, I am having severe memory problems, both my short term and long term memory are affected.
Has anyone ever heard of Lupus affecting your brain in this way?
I have been to several, actually,m quite a few Medical Professionals, but they can't seem to find a cause for these memory problems, I am experiencing.
Any information will be greatly appreciated.
I should mention, that I am a white female, that is 54 years old in generally good health.
Yes, Lupus can affect your brain through the Central Nervous System. The information below is from www.lupus.org
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect almost any part of your body, including your joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, or blood. Lupus can also affect the nervous system and brain. There are several terms doctors use to describe this: neuropsychiatric lupus (NP-SLE), neurocognitive dysfunction, or central nervous system lupus (CNS lupus). Your nervous system has three parts, any of which may be affected by lupus.
- The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and the spinal cord.
- The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is a network of nerves that connects the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body, and gives skin and muscles the signals needed for sensation and movement.
- The autonomic nervous system (ANS) allows communication between spinal and peripheral nerves and the brain and internal organs, and controls functions like breathing, blood flow, and heart rate.
People with lupus can experience a number of complications when their nervous system is affected. The symptoms may come on suddenly or may come and go, but they will vary depending upon the location and extent of the tissue injury. These symptoms also can be present in other diseases, so diagnosing lupus-related nervous system disorders is often difficult.
Neurologists are the physicians who specialize in the nervous system. They may rely on a number of diagnostic tools to determine whether lupus is involved in your cognitive problems:
- brain scans (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT)
- electroencephalograms (to capture the electrical pattern of brain activity)
- spinal tap (to examine fluid in the spinal column)
Behavioral and cognitive tests may also be done to find out if your memory or other mental abilities have been affected.
Depending on the symptoms, a variety of medications are available to treat lupus-related nervous system disorders, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarials, and steroids. Your response to treatment may be rapid or gradual over several months. For many people with lupus, nervous system involvement is completely reversible.
When lupus affects your central nervous system, many symptoms may occur, including:
- vision problems
- mood swings
- difficulty concentrating
Drugs used to treat lupus can cause side effects that are similar to the symptoms of CNS lupus. If you have symptoms of CNS lupus you should consult a neurologist who can determine which symptoms are side effects of medication and which are due to lupus. The drugs most known for causing symptoms like those of CNS lupus are:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – may cause headache, dizziness, confusion, and in rare instances, meningitis-like symptoms
- Antimalarials – in very high doses (not usually given for lupus) may cause manic behavior, seizures, psychosis
- Corticosteroids – may cause agitation, confusion, mood swings, psychosis, depression
- Anti-hypertensive medications – may cause depression or loss of sex drive
A serious form of lupus called CNS vasculitis may occur when there is inflammation of the blood vessels of the brain. Characterized by high fevers, seizures, psychosis, and meningitis-like stiffness of the neck, CNS vasculitis is the most dangerous form of lupus involving the nervous system and usually requires hospitalization and high doses of corticosteroids to suppress the inflammation.