Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. The immune system attacks and damages or destroys the myelin as well as the nerve fibers themselves. Myelin is the protective covering that insulates the nerve fibers. When the nerve covering is inflamed and gradually destroyed, communication between affected nerve fibers can become distorted, delayed, or lost. While there is no cure for MS, researchers have discovered many treatments to slow its progression.
Since MS is such an unpredictable disease, symptoms vary greatly from person to person. So, what are symptoms or early signs of MS? Explore the list below to learn more.
10 Early Signs of MS
This is caused by inflammation of the nerves in the eye. Symptoms typically are temporary and affect one eye. You may experience blurry, washed out, or double vision. In some cases, you may experience eye pain or rapid, involuntary eye movement.
MS can affect your ability to walk, grasp, or carry things. This may happen sporadically, and you may feel unusually off balance, clumsy, shaky, lightheaded, or dizzy.
You may experience a loss of control or strength in an arm or leg. Sometimes an arm or leg can feel unusually heavy.
Numbness and other strange sensations
You can experience feelings such as “pins and needles,” hyper-sensitivity to touch, or, in some cases, a tightening or burning sensation that can travel down your body. You may feel a muscle twitch in your arms and/or legs.
This is not ordinary tiredness. It can be described as an overwhelming sense of exhaustion with no obvious cause.
- Speech problems or trouble swallowing
Your symptoms may be very mild at first. You may notice your speech becoming slower, more deliberate, slurred, shaky, or even explosive.
Muscle cramps or spasms
MS may cause you to have cramps, stiffness, or pain. Sometimes muscle spasms can cause you to limp, or your legs may lock up and stop working entirely.
Bowel and bladder issues
You may have difficulty with incontinence, urinary urgency or frequency, trouble urinating, or constipation.
MS may cause changes involving libido, impotence, hyper-sensitivity, or lack of sensation.
Symptoms of mental clarity, memory, concentration, or emotions can affect people with MS, but most people will be affected mildly.
Things you can do if you experience any of these symptoms
Don’t worry too much, too soon. The symptoms of other treatable medical conditions can mimic the signs of MS. If you are concerned about new or unusual symptoms, you should:
- Keep a record of the dates, times, and durations of your symptoms. Note what you were doing when your symptom began (such as physical exercise). Doctors look for patterns to help them diagnose if you have MS or something else.
- Find out if anyone else in your family has had multiple sclerosis. While MS is not considered a hereditary disease, family history can help the doctor with diagnosis.
- See your primary care physician to be screened. Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist for a comprehensive evaluation.
- Be patient. Give your doctors the time and opportunity to rule out other causes or diseases.
If you do have MS
The good news is that many people with MS are able to manage their symptoms while enjoying a happy and productive life. You can help lessen the effect of your symptoms by making healthy lifestyle changes such as, maintaining a healthy diet and incorporating safe exercise habits in your routine. Home health care can offer a wide range of services for people with MS, including nursing, therapy, and personal care to help them live life to the fullest. BAYADA is committed to enhancing the lives of people living with MS by providing high-quality, specialized care in the comfort of their homes.