Multiple sclerosis (MS) can be a debilitating disease, and it is definitely a diagnosis that will change your life forever. The disease is an immune mediated disorder that primarily attacks your central nervous system. For this reason, it can greatly impair your thoughts, movements and functions. Multiple sclerosis cannot be prevented, however doctors do know that the earlier it is caught, the easier it is to treat and the greater the prognosis is for the patient. In this article we will discuss the early signs of Multiple Sclerosis.
One of the most common early warning signs of MS is blurred vision. People with MS typically have inflammation in the backs of their eyes that can affect their optic nerve. Over time, this inflammation can cause blurred vision and a loss of contrast in your eyes. This could affect one or both of your eyes and could get worse as the inflammation becomes worse. If you have noticed a loss of vision in one or both of your eyes, or have simply noticed a loss of sharpness, color, or contrast, then call your eye doctor and speak with them about your eye issues immediately.
MS affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain. Often, people who are diagnosed with MS will report to their doctors that they have not been able to concentrate properly for a while. This could include memory issues, trouble forming sentences, or trouble keeping up with conversations. Any cognitive dysfunction should be reported to your family doctor immediately.
Loss of Balance
Since MS can also cause damage to your spinal cord and your nerves extending from your spinal cord, many patients begin to lose their balance. Balance issues can cause you to have frequent falls, which can lead to injuries especially if they are severe falls. Patients with balance issues should speak with a doctor in order to see if they are having issues because of MS, or if they have another medical issue occurring.
Tingling or Numbness
Since MS affects the brain and the spine, it causes your body to start to send mixed messages. Your spinal cord may send your limbs one message, while your brain has a totally different message. When the signals from your central nervous system get conflicted, you can start to feel tingling in your limbs. Sometimes, MS patients also have a complete lack of signaling in their central nervous system. If this occurs, then they may feel numbness in certain areas of their body.
Majority of patients who are diagnosed with MS complain about extreme fatigue and even muscle weakness. Patients have to take frequent naps, and complain about never feeling well-rested. Chronic fatigue is in direct correlation to the damage that has occurred in the central nervous system. As nerves begin to degrade, it will take more effort to function properly, which will cause your muscles and body to feel fatigued faster.
Dizziness often accompanies balance issues, but it can also appear separately. MS patients could experience dizziness due to nerve damage in their brains. As the disease progresses, nerves become demyelinated and will stop conducting signals as well as they used to. As this continues, dizziness can set in and can cause people to feel light headed.
Major depression is a very common symptom that can be an early sign of MS. The damage to the central nervous system can cause damage to areas of the brain that affect mood. People with MS can sometimes experience rapid and severe mood swings, suddenly bursting into tears, laughing or shouting angrily for no apparent reason.
As the nerves in your spinal cord become damaged, you will start to lose sensation in your body. This could range from very slight to very sever depending on the number of nerves that have been damaged. While the damage is occurring, these nerves may try to send out signals and the signals may get lost, or misinterpreted by your brain. This could result in muscle spasms in any part of your body especially in the lower extremities and in your back.
Both men and women can experience sexual trouble in the early stages of MS. It is not uncommon for men to experience erectile dysfunction and for women to feel less of a desire for sex and have issues with vaginal dryness.
Along with focus issues and a loss of cognitive function, another early sign of MS is speech problems. People with MS may have long pauses between words or sentences, or lose their words often. They also may experience slurred speech and trouble forming proper words. As the disease progresses, they could even develop swallowing issues and inability to say certain words properly.
Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Patients with MS may be diagnosed with one of four different types of MS that all vary in progression and severity. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with MS, then start by getting all of the facts. It is important that you understand your diagnosis properly so that you can be aware when you are having MS attacks or relapses. If you have not been diagnosed, but are worried about your risk, then watch out for any of these early warning signs of MS. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above please consult with your family doctor immediately. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. For more information about Multiple Sclerosis, look for our third blog post on the disease.