Knowing the facts about MS may help you understand what’s happening in your body and how best to care for yourself.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects an estimated 1 million people in the United States. It’s the most common neurological disease in young adults, usually developing between the ages of 20 and 40 — just when a person is often establishing a family and career.
It’s normal to feel upset and afraid upon hearing a diagnosis of MS. But the good news is that MS can usually be managed successfully with a combination of medication, a healthy lifestyle, and social support from friends, family, healthcare providers, and other people living with MS.
Knowing the facts about multiple sclerosis can help you understand what’s going on in your body and why your MS isn’t exactly like anyone else’s. It can inform the discussions you have with your doctor about how to best manage the disease. And it can help you explain to others what MS is and what it isn’t.
Here are 14 of the most common signs and symptoms associated with MS.
Incontinence and urinary urgency can often result in the early stages of MS, with about 80-percent of patients suffering complaining of the constant feeling to urinate, the need to urinate more frequently, and insomnia due to loss of urinary control.
These bladder issues stem from lesions in either the brain or on the spinal cord — both of which can disrupt how the bladder works because these lesions interfere with the transmission of signals between the brain and bladder. According to Healthline, this symptom is usually easy to manage.
Lack, or total loss of sexual arousal, particularly for males with MS, will occur due to the fact that sexual stimulation originates in the central nervous system. MS affects the nerve pathways directly related to healthy sexual function.
It can also include women who will experience vaginal dryness. Both sexes will “be less responsive to touch, have a lower sex drive, or have trouble reaching orgasm,” says WebMD, Go to next page to see more.
Multiple Sclerosis typically strikes the nerves in the brain and spinal column first and foremost. Whenever something affects the spinal cord, it usually causes symptoms elsewhere in the body as well. Because the spinal cord is the body’s “message center,” patients notice numbness when the body isn’t receiving signals from the brain. Tingling and numbness may be felt in areas such as the face, arms, legs, and upper extremities like the fingers. biogenoptions describes it as an “electrical shock-like feeling when you move your head or neck. It may travel down your spine or into your arms or legs.”
Multiple sclerosis specialists also point out that it’s not a symptom all patients experience. It’s more likely to happen in those who have lesions on their brains from the loss of myelin. Anyone who is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis will receive an MRI to check for lesions on the brain.
Decrease in Cognitive Function
The Cognitive impairment will affect about 50-percent of Multiple Sclerosis patients, with patients suffering from issues like memory loss, disorganization, inability to focus, and severely reduced attention spans. WebMD writes, “it might be hard to focus from time to time.
This will probably mean slowed thinking, poor attention, or fuzzy memory. Some people have severe problems that make it hard to do daily tasks, but that’s rare.”.
Another early warning sign and one of the most common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis is blurred vision. This is due to the fact that the disease can cause inflammation in the optic nerve (a condition called optic neuritis), resulting in deteriorating vision issues—such as blurred vision or pain, double vision, color blindness, or loss of contrast in 1 or both eyes. According to
Multiple sclerosis specialist notes that these vision problems might not occur right away, but rather they’ll happen slowly over time. Patients might also notice pain when they look in a certain direction.
MS will often cause chronic pain originating in the leg and back muscles and joints, causing stiffness, involuntary muscle spasms, and painfully embarrassing jerking motions. Healthline quotes a study conducted by the National MS Society which showed that half of the patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis experience chronic pain. “Muscle stiffness or spasms (spasticity) are also common.
You might experience stiff muscles or joints as well as uncontrollable, painful jerking movements of the extremities,” says Healthline. It also notes that these pains and spasms are most common in the legs, but can also occur in the back. Muscle spasms are also a symptom of progressive MS. They will experience “mild stiffness, or strong, painful spasms.”.
MS also affects coordination and balance, resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, and nauseating vertigo if a person tries to stand up too suddenly or get up quickly from a seated position.
multiple sclerosis specialist says a doctor might
Severe depression is often linked to MS pain. The lack of control over your body and the constant pain can often lead to irritability, mood swings, and moments of uncontrollable crying and laughing (a condition known as the Pseudobulbar Affect). Similar to any chronic condition, it can be extremely hard for patients to come to terms with the realities of their physical symptoms. There is also an element of fear for the unknown. On top of all that, depression can stem from the stress MS puts on the relationships with family and friends.
WebMD also points out that MS affects the nerve fibers in the brain, “and that can affect your emotions.” Other factors that can affect mood are the medications used to treat Multiple Sclerosis, like corticosteroids, Go to next page to see more.
The majority of MS patients also complain of the sudden onset of fatigue (staring in the legs and lower extremities), which leaves them completely drained of energy. This exhaustion will worsen as the nerves gradually deteriorate within the spinal column. Similar to bladder issues, fatigue affects about 80 percent of MS patients in the early stages. Not only do they experience fatigue, but some will suffer from chronic fatigue. “Chronic fatigue occurs when nerves deteriorate in the spinal column. Usually, the fatigue appears suddenly and lasts for weeks before improving. The weakness is most noticeable in the legs at first,” says Healthline.
Some patients might notice that their fatigue is worse in the afternoons and that it affects more than just their mental state. It slows down their thinking and causes their muscles to go weak. Unlike people who aren’t affected by MS, this type of fatigue isn’t related to the amount of work they are doing in a day. It can happen even on a full night of sleep, Go to next page to see more.
While it never gets so bad as to affect someone’s intellect or their ability to read or understand a conversation, it’s more likely to affect their focus and the speed of which they are able to process information. For example, it might take them longer to respond or take long pauses in between words. It can also cause nasal or slurred speech.
WebMD says in rare cases when the symptoms are especially bad, it’ll be hard to perform daily tasks, but this is unlikely. As the disease progresses, some patients might experience difficulty swallowing, Go to next page to see more.
This slide is somewhat related to muscle spasms and numbness, but also makes note of the other unusual sensations that can take place like “itching, burning, stabbing, or tearing pains.” The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada says the most common sensation is numbness, but the others listed here can also occur.
It typically starts off in one or more limbs and then gradually spreads throughout the body and increases in intensity as it spreads. Arguably, one of the most unusual is referred to as the MS hug. Patients who experience this will feel a tightness around their upper belly and ribs. It’s referred to by doctors as dysesthesia, Go to next page to see more.
In addition to these unusual sensations, MS also commonly causes tremors. WebMD says it occurs in about half of the people with this disease.
These tremors can vary in degree, being either minor shakes or be so intense that it makes it hard to accomplish everyday tasks, Go to next page to see more.
Another early warning sign of Multiple Sclerosis is heart trouble. Someone who exercises regularly might notice they are getting tired earlier in their workout, or even while doing just a short warm-up.
WebMD says these heart problems can cause fatigue and weakness, as well as trouble controlling certain parts of their body like their foot or leg. What’s strange is that the symptoms will go away as soon as the rest, Go to next page to see more.
As previously discussed, Multiple Sclerosis can cause bladder issues as the lesions on the brain interfere with the transmission of signals between the brain and bladder. Similarly, MS can also affect bowel movement.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada says the most common form of bowel dysfunction in MS patients is constipation, but that it can also include diarrhea and incontinence. It goes on to say that constipation is another result of an interruption in the neural pathways, Go to next page to see more.
[Quiz]: Test Your Knowledge About Multiple Sclerosis
In America, approximately 350,000 people have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a condition that strikes the central nervous system—which is made up of the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. This is why MS impacts the vision, hearing, memory, balance, speech, and mobility of its victims.
While Multiple Sclerosis strikes mostly teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 40, women are three times more likely to develop MS compared to men.
Based on the latest multiple sclerosis news, there
Take this quiz to assess your knowledge of MS — and maybe learn a few new things in the process.
1. Multiple Sclerosis Is an Autoimmune Disorder
True Most experts believe that MS is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath that normally protects nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly reacts against a self-antigen, which is a normal protein or cell marker that should not provoke such a response.
In the case of MS, researchers still don’t know what self-antigen triggers the immune system response. Some experts refer to MS as an “immune-mediated” disease but stop short of classifying it as an autoimmune disease.
2. Numbness, Tingling, Vision Changes, and Balance Problems Are Common Early Signs of MS
True Numbness and tingling, vision changes, and balance and walking problems are common early signs and symptoms of MS, but because many other conditions besides MS can also cause them, they are not always recognized as the beginnings of MS.
In fact, MS is often misdiagnosed as something else. According to a 2017 survey conducted by MultipleSclerosis.net, of the 5,311 people with MS who responded, 25 percent were initially diagnosed with depression, 15 percent with migraine, 14 percent with fibromyalgia, 13 percent with a psychiatric disorder, 11 percent with vitamin B12 deficiency, and 10 percent with chronic fatigue disorder.
It’s worth noting, however, that a person with multiple sclerosis can have other medical conditions besides MS at the same time as having MS.
3. Each Person With Multiple Sclerosis Has a Unique Pattern of Symptoms
True While some MS symptoms, such as fatigue, are very common and affect most people with the disease, each person with MS has a unique pattern and severity of symptoms.
To some extent, a person’s MS symptoms depend on where their lesions, or areas of damage, are located in the brain or spinal cord. But it’s also common for an MRI scan to show lesions that can’t be connected to any symptoms, or for symptoms to worsen without any new lesions appearing on an MRI scan.
A person’s symptoms can also be influenced by the drug therapy they’re using. If the disease-modifying therapy a person is using is working for them, they should not be acquiring new lesions and should not be developing new symptoms.
4. Diagnosing MS Is Easy and Straightforward
False Diagnosing MS can be challenging for several reasons.
The early signs and symptoms of MS are not unique to MS. Many other conditions can cause such symptoms as numbness, blurred vision, double vision, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, and fatigue — not just MS.
MS symptoms can come and go, which can lead some people to delay seeking a diagnosis and can also cause some doctors to delay making a diagnosis.
No single test definitively diagnoses MS, so arriving at an MS diagnosis is a process of conducting tests to rule out other diseases and to look for indicators of MS. Those tests typically include a neurological evaluation, an MRI to look for characteristic brain lesions, and sometimes a lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap) to look for abnormalities in the spinal fluid.
5. No One Really Knows What Causes or Triggers MS
True Most experts believe that some combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental causes is necessary to trigger MS. But no one knows what set off the immune reaction that leads to MS lesions in the first place.
Not surprisingly, much ongoing research is focused on developing an understanding of how the various possible environmental causes — such as a low vitamin D level or infection with the Epstein-Barr virus — might trigger MS. Unlike genetic susceptibility, which is generally difficult if not impossible to change, environmental factors might be relatively easy to change, if they could be identified and their role in MS understood.
6. Older Age Is a Risk Factor for MS
False Older age does not raise the risk of developing MS. While it is possible to be diagnosed with MS at any age, most people who have it experience their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40.
Factors that are believed to raise the risk of MS include having a family member who has it, having vitamin D deficiency, smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke, growing up far from the equator, and having obesity in childhood and adolescence. It is also thought that certain viral infections, particularly Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of most cases of mononucleosis, raise the risk of developing MS.
But most people who have these risk factors do not develop MS, reinforcing experts’ belief that a combination of genetic predisposition and exposure to environmental risk factors is necessary to trigger multiple sclerosis.
7. Most People With MS Are Initially Diagnosed With Relapsing-Remitting MS
True Between 80 and 90 percent of people with MS are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS, a stage of MS characterized by periods of symptom worsening — known as relapses, flares, or exacerbations — and periods during which symptoms stay fairly stable.
Relapses are caused by inflammation in the central nervous system and are generally treated with high doses of steroid drugs over several days to stop the inflammation.
But even better than treating relapses is preventing them, which is where disease-modifying therapies for MS come in. These drugs have been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses and to prevent the accumulation of disability over time. However, they also come with side effects, so decisions about drugs should be made jointly by you and your doctor.
8. There Are No Treatments for Primary-Progressive MS
False There is one drug therapy approved for primary-progressive MS (PPMS), a type of MS that affects about 15 percent of people with MS overall. Called Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017. Ocrevus has been shown in studies to decrease the rate of disease progression and associated disability in people with PPMS.
Several other drugs are currently being studied as potential treatments for progressive forms of MS, which include PPMS and secondary-progressive MS, a stage of MS that is often considered a second phase of relapsing-remitting MS.
Besides drug therapy, treatments available to people with PPMS include various forms of rehabilitation and assistive devices to make daily tasks, communication, and mobility easier; treatments to ease symptoms such as spasticity or pain; and lifestyle measures such as a healthy diet and regular exercise for overall wellness.
9. Very Few People With MS Develop Thinking or Memory Problems
False Thinking and memory problems, sometimes called cognitive deficits or cognitive impairment, are common among people with multiple sclerosis, even early in the disease. Cognitive deficits may include forgetting what you are doing or losing your train of thought in conversation, having trouble learning new information, and having difficulty planning or organizing tasks or activities. Multitasking, or trying to pay attention to two things at once, tend to be particularly difficult for people with MS.
Both cognitive impairment and physical disability are associated with unemployment among people with MS. Cognitive deficits can also affect a person’s social life and other aspects of daily functioning.
Various forms of cognitive rehabilitation, as well as some self-help approaches, can improve cognitive functioning. If you’re having trouble focusing, remembering, or performing other mental tasks, talk to your doctor about seeing a rehabilitation specialist for an evaluation.
10. Multiple Sclerosis Shortens Life Expectancy
True Studies of populations in various European countries, Canada, and the United States have shown that multiple sclerosis shortens a person’s life expectancy by about six or seven years.
Many people with MS die of complications of the disease, such as pneumonia or sepsis resulting from an infection. Others die from cardiac or vascular diseases. And still, others die of causes unrelated to MS.
The availability of newer and more effective disease-modifying therapies may change the effects of MS on life expectancy, although this remains to be seen.
Source : www.activebeat.com