Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system, which is the brain and spinal cord. The immune system attacks the protective cover that lines the nerve fiber called myelin. This causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. This disease can cause the nerves to deteriorate or become permanently damaged.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for MS. There are treatments that help speed up recovery from MS attacks and control symptoms. Here are some early warning signs that you should be aware of. Talk to your doctor about if you have experienced any of these symptoms or at risk for MS.
Early Warning Signs
1. Vision Problems
Inflammation of the optic nerve affects the central vision, causing blurred vision, double vision, even loss of vision. People have also stated that they have pain when looking up or to one side.
2. Tingling and numbness
Tingling sensations and numbness are common in the face, arms, legs, and fingers. MS affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. When the brain sends conflicting signals to different parts of the brain, the result is tingling sensation or numbness.
3. Pains and Spasms
Women with MS are more likely to have leg pain than men. Unrelenting leg pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness are all common symptoms with MS.
4. Weakness or Fatigue
Unexplained muscle weakness has been reported in patients with MS, mostly in the legs. Patients have also had chronic fatigue that suddenly appears and lasts for weeks before improving.
5. Bladder Problems
Common symptoms include frequent urination, strong urges, and even incontinence.
6. Balance Problems or Dizziness
Patients with MS often feel light-headed, dizzy, and vertigo. Vertigo is when it seems like the surroundings are spinning, occurring when going to stand up.
7. Sexual Dysfunction
Sex can become a problem for most people with MS because arousal begins in the central nervous system and MS attacks the nervous system.
8. Cognitive Problems
MS affects the nervous system which can cause cognitive problems such as language or memory problems. Problems also include trouble staying organized or attention span is shorter than usual.
There have been other symptoms reported in patients with MS. Symptoms include hearing loss, seizures, uncontrollable shaking, breathing problems, slurred speech, and trouble swallowing.
The progression of the disease varies from person to person. Some patients go years without repeated symptoms while others suffer continuous progression of the disease. It is possible to experience these symptoms without knowing it is a sign of MS. However, there are some risk factors you should also be aware of.
Age. Most people affected are from 15-60 years old.
Sex. Women are 2xs as likely to be diagnosed with MS.
Family History. If one of your parents or siblings have MS, your risk is greater.
Race. Caucasians, most of northern Europe descent, are at a greater risk. Asian, African, or Native American descent are at the lowest risk.
Weather. Countries including Canada, Europe, northern US, and New Zealand are at a higher risk for MS.
Please talk to your doctor if you are at risk or have experienced any of these symptoms. Because there is no ONE test to diagnose MS, it may take time to properly diagnose your symptoms and causes. There is ongoing research into developing new medications, ways to properly identify causes of MS, and immune system modifications.
Special thanks to TVM for cover photo