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Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms to Watch Out For

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms to Watch Out For

Multiple sclerosis is more common in women than in men, and in those from temperate climates. The first symptoms commonly manifest between the ages of 20 and 40. What multiple sclerosis symptoms should you watch out for?

Multiple Sclerosis, Explained

We can move, think, and feel because of nerve impulses, the electrical signals that travel to and from the brain via the nerves. Normally, these nerves are covered by a protective layer called the myelin sheath, which also promotes efficient nerve communication.

In multiple sclerosis, the patient’s immune system attacks the myelin sheaths in the brain and spine, causing damage that interferes with nerve impulse transmission.

Since MS can happen anywhere in the central nervous system, the symptoms are sometimes hard to detect. Medical experts emphasize that catching the warning signs helps the patient start with early treatment, which increases their chance of better managing their condition.

Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms to Watch Out For

The warning signs of multiple sclerosis vary from person to person, but generally, they include CIS, primary, secondary, and tertiary symptoms.

Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)

In most cases, people who will later be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis first experience CIS or clinically isolated syndrome. CIS is a group of neurologic symptoms that last for only about 24 hours.

A patient who suffers from CIS may have just one symptom (monofocal episode) or more than one (multifocal episode). The common neurologic symptoms under CIS include:

  • Weakness in legs
  • Tingling sensation
  • Slurred speech
  • Numbness
  • Optic neuritis, which makes patients complain of blurry vision, dull-looking colors, and eye pain

Not everyone who experiences CIS will develop multiple sclerosis. Still, if you notice the symptoms above, set an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. If it is not MS, CIS may indicate another serious condition, such as severe Vitamin B12 deficiency or exposure to toxic substances.

Primary Symptoms

The multiple sclerosis symptoms to watch out for include primary symptoms, which directly come from the ongoing myelin sheath damage. These symptoms lead to many discomforts, but getting early treatment can keep them under control.

Tremors. Many multiple sclerosis patients experience mild or intense tremors. Sometimes, the shaking is so severe it interferes with the patient’s daily activities.

Weakness. Patients with MS may also exhibit fatigue. The weakness is not related to activity level; sometimes, patients feel tired even after having enough, good-quality sleep.

Vision problems. Along with optic neuritis, MS patients may also experience involuntary eye movements (nystagmus), double vision (diplopia), or vision loss.

Numbness and tingling sensation. The numbness from CIS may persist, and patients may experience it frequently. Additionally, people with MIS may also feel unusual sensations such as itching or burning.

Muscle spasms. Another common MS symptom is muscle spasms, which mostly affect the legs. This can also lead to walking difficulties.

Bowel and bladder problems. Bowel and bladder problems are also under the early multiple sclerosis symptoms to watch out for. Patients may experience constipation, increased urinary frequency, or inability to empty the bladder.

Sexual problems. Women may have vaginal dryness, and men may experience erection problems. Patients may also experience low sex drive.

Thinking problems. Multiple sclerosis can also lead to slowed thinking, poor memory, and inattention.

Other primary symptoms

Here are the additional multiple sclerosis primary symptoms to watch out for:

  • Loss of balance or lack of coordination
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Slurred speech
  • Swallowing problems

Secondary Symptoms

Secondary symptoms happen as a result of the primary symptoms. Examples include:

  • Urinary tract infections due to bowel and bladder problems
  • Increased risk of pneumonia because of swallowing problems and inactivity from weakness
  • Decreased bone density from being less mobile

Tertiary Symptoms

Tertiary symptoms involve social problems, job-related issues, and psychological concerns. They happen as the disease progresses or worsens. Examples include:

  • Depression
  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • Loss of job due to inability to perform tasks

Key Takeaways

Knowing about the multiple sclerosis symptoms to watch out for allows patients to get an early diagnosis. And while there is still no cure for MS, prompt treatment maximizes a patient’s quality of life.

Learn more about Multiple Sclerosis here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/m/multiple-sclerosis-ms.html
Accessed November 27, 2020

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00790
Accessed November 27, 2020

Multiple sclerosis (MS)
https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/multiple-sclerosis-ms
Accessed November 27, 2020

Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis
https://www.rush.edu/news/early-signs-multiple-sclerosis
Accessed November 27, 2020

Multiple sclerosis
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms/
Accessed November 27, 2020

Picture of the author
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. on Dec 03, 2020
Medically reviewed by Dr. Nicole Aliling
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