Its cause continues to be unknown, but affecting over one million people in the United States alone, multiple sclerosis can cause a wide and unpredictable range of symptoms and severity. What we do know is the fact that women are more likely to be diagnosed with MS, and that every person living with multiple sclerosis will experience it differently, with symptoms changing and evolving during the progression of the disease.
Living with multiple sclerosis can be very challenging; however, it is much easier to manage when you are aware of the signs and symptoms to watch out for and remain in communication with your healthcare team about any changes noted, to allow for the most effective treatment option.
To that end, we’ve collected some of the most common as well as outlying symptoms that an individual with MS can experience:
- Weakness and fatigue. As many as 8 out of every 10 MS patients report significant fatigue that interferes with their daily life activities.
- Challenges with walking. MS may cause damage to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when coupled with fatigue, diminished balance, as well as other factors, walking becomes a challenge.
- Tingling/numbness. Among the first telltale indications of MS, numbness and/or tingling can take place throughout the body, including the arms, legs and face.
- Difficulties with vision. Pain, blurred vision, or problems with contrast and colors is another initial symptom for many, and warrants an immediate trip to the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of muscle spasms and/or stiffness, 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 exercise, 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 individuals with MS experience changes to brain functionality, such as short-term memories, information processing, focus, as well as the ability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression and various other emotional changes. Either from the stress of managing the condition or from neurological changes, people who have MS most frequently experience depression in its most severe form – clinical depression – and may experience mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying, and increased irritability.
Less Common Symptoms
- Problems with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lower tone of voice, as well as difficulties with swallowing, can be the consequence of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and may be worse during times of fatigue.
- Seizures and tremors. While rare, seizures can occur as a result of either scarring in the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors can be noticeable as well due to nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another rare symptom, impacting only about 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is often among the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened as a result of nerve damage, difficulties with breathing may appear.
As the leading providers of home care in Owings Mills, MD, Home With You Senior Care is an integral part of the healthcare team of our clients with multiple sclerosis, and can provide many types of assistance to those with this chronic condition. Email or call us at 410-756-0959 for a free in-home consultation and for more information about our compassionate care team and our top-rated home care in Owings Mills, MD and the surrounding areas.