Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system (CNS) disorder in which the myelin sheath of the nerves is damaged. In MS the CNS is attacked by the person’s own immune system. That is why MS is known as an auto-immune disease. MS gets its name from the build up of scar tissue (sclerosis) in the brain and/or spinal cord.
Myelin sheath is the material that surrounds the nerve fibers and helps conduct the electrical signals and impulses along the nervous system from the brain. Without the myelin, electrical signals transmitted throughout the brain and spinal cord are disrupted or halted. The brain then becomes handicapped to send and to receive messages. It is this breakdown of communication that causes the symptoms of MS.
No two persons suffering from MS have the same symptoms. Symptoms vary from person to person and the stage of MS, that is, the extent of damage of the myelin sheath.
Some of the early symptoms of MS are:
- Muscle abnormalities such as muscle weakness, muscle stiffness, heaviness in arms and legs, inability to hold anything in the hands.
- Visual abnormalities such as blurred, foggy or hazy vision, double vision or sudden blindness
- Sensory abnormalities such as tingling, numbness and prickling or pins-and-needles sensation in trunk or legs
- Lack of balance and coordination
- Slurred speech
- Cognitive difficulties
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Urinary incontinence
- Thinking and memory problems
Symptoms may become more severe as MS progresses. Some of the symptoms in the advanced stage of MS are:
- Increased muscle problems, such as weakness, leg dragging, clumsiness, or lack of coordination.
- Constipation and other bowel disorders
- Spasticity (Stiff, mechanical movements) or Tremors (uncontrollable shaking), which may make walking difficult. A wheelchair may be needed some or all of the time.
- Male erectile dysfunction (impotence) and female sexual dysfunction
- Memory loss, difficulty concentrating, reduced attention span, or difficulty finding the correct words
- Pain in muscles and other sensory organs
- Extreme fatigue due to increased muscle weakness accompanied with mental fatigue, sleepiness, or drowsiness
- Emotional symptoms can mean depression, anxiety, and anger. A rare symptom is excessive cheerfulness that seems inappropriate.
- Difficulty in swallowing and speaking
Less Known Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms:
- Uhthoff’s syndrome
- Autonomic nervous system problems
- Impaired sense of taste and smell
- Sleeping disorders
- Inappropriately cold parts of the body
- Mood swings
- Bipolar syndrome
- Inability to achieve orgasm
- Flaccid Bladder
- Vestibular Ataxia
- Facial pain
- Dysfunctional reflexes
- Foot drop
- Muscle Atrophy
- Ocular dysmetria
- Restless leg syndrome, especially at night
- Abnormal pupil responses
- Sound and Movement phosphenes
- Proprioceptive Dysfunction
- A condition technically called L’Hermitte’s
Facts and Statistics on Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms:
- This disease affects young adults mostly and is prevalent in women than in men.
- As symptoms of usually appear in episodes after certain periods of worsening, the United States National Multiple Sclerosis Society standardized four subtype of this disease in 1996, to predict its progression over the time.
- The four subtypes are relapsing remitting, secondary progressive, primary progressive and progressive relapsing.
- 85–90 percent people suffering from MS have relapsing remitting course of progression.
- In 65 percent of people with initial relapsing remitting progression, secondary progressive MS occurs.
- Primary progressive MS is seen in 15 percent patients who had no experience of remission of symptoms in the initial days of this disease.
- Progressive relapsing MS is the least common of all the subtypes and involves individuals suffering from a steady neurologic decline and superimposed attacks from the very beginning of the disease.
- In the initial stages of the disease, the neurological symptoms become apparent. As the disease progresses, physical and cognitive symptoms of disability appear gradually.
- Every attack of this disease shows a new symptoms and that is why it has several forms.
- Some of the symptoms appearing in between the attacks disappear completely, but the neurological signs often occur permanently.
- This disease has unfortunately no cure and the treatment aims at bringing back normalcy of the affected organs after an attack, prevent new attacks and inhibit any disability.