Though its cause remains unknown, it affects over a million people within the U.S. alone. Multiple sclerosis can cause a wide and unpredictable range of symptoms and severity, making it challenging to treat. What we do know is that women are much more likely to be diagnosed with MS, and that each person will experience it differently, with signs and symptoms changing and evolving throughout the advancement of the disease.
Managing multiple sclerosis can be very difficult, but it is much easier to manage once you are aware of the symptoms to watch out 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’ve compiled some of the most typical early signs of multiple sclerosis, along with outlying symptoms, that an individual with MS can experience:
- Weakness and fatigue. As many as 8 out of every 10 MS patients report substantial fatigue that interferes with their daily activities.
- Challenges with walking. MS can cause injury to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when coupled with fatigue, loss of balance, and other factors, walking becomes difficult.
- Tingling/numbness. One of the first telltale signs and symptoms of MS, numbness and/or tingling can take place throughout the body, including the legs, arms and face.
- Problems with vision. Pain, blurred vision, or problems with contrast and colors is also an initial symptom for many, and requires an immediate appointment with the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of stiffness and/or muscle spasms, and occurs 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. Some individuals with multiple sclerosis report dizziness, lightheadedness, 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 information processing, short-term memories, focus, and with the ability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression and other emotional changes. Either from the pressure of managing the disease or from neurological changes, those with MS most often experience depression in its most severe form – clinical depression – and may also endure mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying, and increased irritability.
Less Common Symptoms
- Difficulties with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lower tone of voice, as well as issues with swallowing, may be the result 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 within the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors might be noticeable as well due to nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another infrequent symptom, affecting only about 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is oftentimes among the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened due to nerve damage, issues with breathing can happen.
At Abby Senior Care, we’re 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. Contact the Denver senior care leaders at 303-699-8840 for a complimentary in-home consultation and for more information regarding our knowledgeable care team and home care services. To find our if our top-rated Denver senior care services are available near you, please visit our Service Area page.