Its cause is still not known, but affecting over one 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 that women are much more likely to develop MS, and that every person will experience it in different ways, with signs and symptoms changing and evolving through the advancement of the disease.
Managing MS symptoms can be quite complicated, but they are easier to manage when you are aware of what to watch for and stay 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 gathered some of the more common MS symptoms as well as outlying symptoms that an individual with MS may experience:
- Fatigue and weakness. Up to eight out of every ten MS patients report noticeable fatigue that interferes with their day-to-day life activities.
- Difficulties with walking. MS may cause injury to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when combined with fatigue, loss of balance, as well as other factors, walking ends up being a challenge.
- Tingling/numbness. One of the initial telltale indications of MS, tingling and/or numbness can take place throughout the body, including the face, arms and legs.
- Difficulties with vision. Pain, blurred vision or difficulties with colors and contrast 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 occurs 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 individuals with multiple sclerosis report lightheadedness, dizziness, or, less frequently, vertigo – the sensation of the room spinning around you.
- Shifts in cognitive ability. About 50% of those with MS experience changes to brain functionality, such as information processing, short-term memories, focus, and the capability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression and other emotional changes. Either from the pressure of managing the disease or from neurological changes, those diagnosed with 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 Frequent Symptoms
- Complications with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lower tone of voice, as well as problems with swallowing, may be the result of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and can be more serious during times of fatigue.
- Seizures and tremors. While rare, seizures can occur due to either scarring in the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors may be noticeable as well as a result of nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another rare symptom, impacting approximately 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is frequently among the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened due to nerve damage, difficulties with breathing may appear.
As the top-rated provider of home and respite care in Wilmette, Inspired Home Care is an important 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 give us a call at 847-787-7572 for a complimentary in-home assessment for more information about our compassionate care team and our experienced home and respite care in Wilmette and the surrounding communities.