What is cognitive disturbance?
The cognitive disturbance is the medical term for attention, thinking, and memory problems. Around 70% of cancer patients suffer from cognitive disturbance. It occurs in cancer patients after cancer treatments. Attention, thinking, and memory problems can be more or less severe. Even mild problems can make daily activities difficult.
How bad is my cognitive disturbance?
Mild: You forget things more often or forget important events.
Moderate: You start having trouble finding your way around familiar environments. You may experience depression, Irritability, aggression and Anxiety
Severe: You may loses the ability to understand, talk or write. You may have difficulty recognising people, places or things. It may cause significant impairment of work/school/life performance. It requires urgent medical assistance.
How to manage mild cognitive disturbance?
- Keep a checklist of daily reminders.
- Color code or label certain cabinets or drawers where you store things at home.
- Put things back in the same place every time.
- Get rid of clutter (extra papers, books, and other items) around your home.
- Opt for specific rehabilitation and training.
- Do things that exercise your brain (puzzles, word games, painting, playing an instrument or learning a new hobby).
- Do one thing at a time.
- Use word play(making up a rhyme), to help you remember things.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Physical exercise (walking, swimming, or gardening) helps your brain stay alert. Yoga or meditation can help you relax and clear your mind.
How to manage moderate and severe cognitive disturbance?
Seek immediate medical care if you have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:
- Change in level of consciousness or alertness
- Change in mental status or sudden behavior change (confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations)
- Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
- High Fever (101< degrees Fahrenheit)
- Paralysis or inability to move a body part
- Stiff or rigid neck
- Sudden change in vision, loss of vision, or eye pain
- Trauma to the head
- Worst headache
What causes cognitive disturbance?
- Radiation therapy
- Brain surgery
- Brain cancer
- Hormone therapy
- Medications to control pain or nausea
- Medications that suppress immune system
- Medications for depression, anxiety, heart problems, or sleep problems
- Fatigue (Tiredness)
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