Its cause is still not known, but impacting over a million people in the U.S. alone, multiple sclerosis may cause a wide and unpredictable range of symptoms and severity. What we do know is the fact that women are more likely to develop MS, and that each person will experience it in different ways, with signs and symptoms changing and evolving throughout the progression of the disease.
Managing multiple sclerosis can be quite challenging, but it is easier to manage when you are aware of 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 have compiled some of the most typical as well as outlying symptoms that an individual with MS can experience:
- Fatigue and weakness. As many as 8 out of every 10 MS patients report considerable fatigue that interferes with their daily activities.
- Difficulties with walking. MS may cause injury to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when coupled with fatigue, loss of balance, along with other factors, walking ends up being a challenge.
- Numbness/tingling. One of the initial telltale signs and symptoms of MS, tingling and/or numbness can take place throughout the body, including the legs, arms and face.
- Issues with vision. Pain, blurred vision, or problems with contrast and colors is also an initial symptom for many, and warrants an immediate trip to the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of stiffness and/or muscle spasms, and develops most frequently in the legs.
- Bladder/bowel problems. Constipation and bladder dysfunction, while extremely common, can typically be remedied with medications, diet, physical activity, and hydration.
- Dizziness. Many individuals with multiple sclerosis report lightheadedness, dizziness, or, less frequently, vertigo – the sensation of the room spinning around you.
- Changes to cognitive ability. About 50% of those with MS experience changes to brain functionality, such as focus, short-term memories, information processing, together with the ability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression as well as other emotional changes. Either from the pressure of managing the disease or from neurological changes, individuals with MS most frequently experience depression in its most severe form – clinical depression – and may endure mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying, and increased irritability.
Less Frequent Symptoms
- Difficulties with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lowered tone of voice, along with problems with swallowing, may be the consequence of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and may be worse during times of fatigue.
- Tremors and seizures. While rare, seizures may occur as a result of either scarring in the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors might be noticeable as well due to nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another rare symptom, affecting only about 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is usually among the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened as a result of nerve damage, difficulties with breathing can result.
As the top-rated provider of senior care and respite care in Bristol and nearby areas, Live Free Home Health Care is an important part of the healthcare team of our clients with multiple sclerosis, and can provide many different types of assistance to those with this chronic health condition. Email or give us a call at 603-217-0149 for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our knowledgeable care team and our specialized respite care in Bristol and the surrounding communities.