Its cause continues to be unknown, but it affects over a million people in the United States alone, and multiple sclerosis can cause an extensive and unpredictable variety of symptoms and severity. What we do know is the fact that women are much more likely to develop MS, and that every person will experience it in different ways, with symptoms changing and evolving as the disease advances.
Managing multiple sclerosis can be very challenging, but it is much easier to manage as soon as you understand the signs and symptoms to watch for and remain in communication with your healthcare team with regard to any changes noted, to allow for the most effective treatment option.
To that end, we’ve put together some of the most typical along with outlying symptoms that an individual can experience prior to an MS diagnosis:
- Weakness and fatigue. Up to 8 out of every 10 MS patients report considerable fatigue that interferes with their day-to-day life activities.
- Challenges with walking. MS can cause injury to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when coupled with fatigue, diminished balance, as well as other factors, walking ends up being a challenge.
- Numbness/tingling. One of the first telltale signs and symptoms of MS, numbness and/or tingling can take place throughout the body, including the arms, legs and face.
- Issues with vision. Blurred vision, pain, or difficulties with colors and contrast is also an initial symptom for many, and warrants an immediate appointment with the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of stiffness and/or muscle spasms, and occurs most frequently in the legs.
- Bowel/bladder problems. Constipation and bladder dysfunction, while extremely common, can typically be remedied with medications, diet, physical activity, and hydration.
- Dizziness. Some individuals with multiple sclerosis report dizziness, lightheadedness, or, less frequently, vertigo – the sensation of the room spinning around you.
- Shifts in cognitive ability. About half of those with MS experience changes to brain functionality, such as focus, short-term memories, information processing, and the capability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression and other emotional changes. Either from the strain of managing the disease or from neurological changes, those with MS most often experience depression in its most severe form – clinical depression – and may also endure mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying, and increased irritability.
Less Common Symptoms
- Complications with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lower tone of voice, as well as problems with swallowing, can be the results of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and can be more serious during times of fatigue.
- Seizures and tremors. While rare, seizures may occur due to either scarring within the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors can be noticeable as well as a result of nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another rare symptom, affecting approximately 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is often among the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened because of nerve damage, difficulties with breathing can occur.
At Grace Home Care, we’re an integral part of the healthcare team of our clients with multiple sclerosis, and can assist those with this chronic condition in many ways. Email or call us at 785-286-2273 for a no-cost in-home assessment for more information regarding our knowledgeable care team and our skilled Topeka elderly care services. For a full list of all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.