Its cause remains not known, but affecting over one million people within the United States alone, multiple sclerosis can result in 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 each person will experience it in different ways, with signs and symptoms changing and evolving as the disease advances.
Managing multiple sclerosis can be quite complicated, but it is much easier to manage once you understand the early signs of MS 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 more typical as well as outlying symptoms that someone with MS may experience:
- Weakness and fatigue. Approximately eight out of every ten MS patients report noticeable fatigue that interferes with their everyday life activities.
- Difficulties with walking. MS can result in damage to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when combined with fatigue, diminished balance, and other factors, walking becomes a challenge.
- Tingling/numbness. Among the first telltale symptoms of MS, numbness and/or tingling can occur throughout the body, including the legs, arms and face.
- Problems with vision. Pain, blurred vision, or problems with colors and contrast is also an initial symptom for many, and warrants an immediate visit to the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of muscle spasms and/or stiffness, and develops most often 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. Many people 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 individuals with MS experience changes to brain functionality, such as short-term memories, information processing, focus, and the ability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression along with other emotional changes. Either from the pressure of managing the disease or from neurological changes, people who have MS most frequently experience depression in its most severe form – clinical depression – and may also experience mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying, and increased irritability.
Less Frequent Symptoms
- Complications with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lowered tone of voice, along with problems with swallowing, can be the outcome of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and may be worse during times of fatigue.
- Seizures and tremors. While rare, seizures may occur as a result of either scarring within the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors can be noticeable as well due to nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another infrequent symptom, impacting approximately 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is often one of the initial symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened because of nerve damage, difficulties with breathing can happen.
As the leading provider of home care in Des Moines, IA and nearby areas, At-Home Care Company is an integral part of the healthcare team of our clients with multiple sclerosis, and can help relieve the issues linked to the disease in a number of ways. Email or give us a call at (515) 292-2650 for a free in-home assessment to learn more about our compassionate care team and our professional home care in Des Moines and the surrounding communities.