Multiple sclerosis has unpredictable symptoms and the symptoms differ in intensity. There are some who only have numbness and are always fatigued, but severe cases can cause weakened brain functions, paralysis, and loss of vision. It has been reported that MS (multiple sclerosis) affects about 2.5 million people globally and women are affected much more than men. A family history of MS brings your risk of MS up significantly.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease and these diseases occur when the immune system of the body actually attacks itself. In the case of MS, the immune system assaults the protective coverings around the nerve cells. This damage causes diminished function in the brain and spinal column. As with most autoimmune diseases, the cause of MS is a mystery. Researchers know that nerve damage is caused by inflammation but there is no definitive reason for the inflammation.
Early Signs of MS
Early signs of multiple sclerosis are vision problems or optic neuritis. Inflammation attacks the optic nerve and causes problems to the central vision. This is turn leads to blurred vision in one or both eyes, loss of contrast, vivid colors or double vision. The degeneration of clear vision is often slow and you may feel pain when you look up or to the side.
Nerves in the brain and spinal column or the body”s message centers are affected by MS. Nerves may send no signals to the brain and this causes numbness. Common sites of numbness are the arms, legs, and fingers plus the face. You may also feel tingling sensations as the nerves are conflicted and inflamed.
Chronic pain and muscle spasms are common symptoms with multiple sclerosis. Muscle stiffness is a normal symptom and feelings of stiff muscles and joints can be very uncomfortable. Often MS brings on painful jerking movements of the legs. Back pain is also a symptom.
Additional indicators of MS include fatigue and weakness. Chronic fatigue happens as the nerves in the spinal column deteriorate. Fatigue may appear quite suddenly and last for weeks. Extremely tired and weak legs are normal and cause a loss of mobility.
Symptoms of MS include dizziness and problems with coordination. Your balance may feel ” “off” . Freedom of movement is limited due to being lightheaded or experiencing vertigo. If you are suffering from symptoms of MS you will often feel very dizzy when you stand up.
MS attacks the central nervous system. This causes sexual, bladder and bowel dysfunction. You will often urinate frequently; have strong urges to continually urinate or the inability to hold in urine. Urinary related symptoms can be managed with medication or surgery. Those with MS may also experience diarrhea, constipation or a total loss of bowel control.
People with multiple sclerosis generally develop cognitive function disturbances. These may include shortened attention spans, language glitches or the inability to organize simple tasks. Mental problems can include memory issues and mood swings.
As with any major disease or conditions, depression is very common. MS causes stress, irritability and emotional highs and lows. In addition the pseudo-bulbar affect or bouts of uncontrollable crying and laughing can become almost unbearable.
Symptoms are different with everyone who experiences multiple sclerosis. Your symptoms may include seizures, uncontrollable shaking, breathing problems or slurred speech. Some MS patients experience hearing loss and trouble swallowing or talking.
The progression and severity of multiple sclerosis is very variable. Attacks might last a few weeks and then disappear for a time. Relapses however do get progressively worse and are extremely unpredictable. Each attack may have different symptoms. MS is a very difficult disease to forecast. MS can attack a normally healthy person and cause a huge lifestyle change. However, if you follow the symptoms and an early diagnosis is established, your symptoms and MS itself can be prevented from progressing rapidly.
Usually a neurologist will help diagnose MS. They will do a complete neurological exam to check for reduced nerve function. An eye exam will be performed to find distortions in the inner eye and your response time when looking around. Generally a spinal tap where a sample of spinal fluid is removed is tested. These tests give a profile of the damage to the central nervous system. These same tests can also be used to rule out other diseases.
Multiple sclerosis is pseudo-hereditary, but you have a higher chance if a close relative has the disease. Studies report that the general population does not have a huge chance of developing MS, but if you have a sibling or a parent with MS the percentage of you being a victim of MS is about 15%.