Its cause is unknown, but impacting over one million people in the U.S. alone, multiple sclerosis can result in an extensive 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 symptoms changing and evolving during the advancement of the disease.
Managing multiple sclerosis can be very difficult; however, it is much easier to manage when you understand the symptoms to watch out for and stay in communication with your healthcare team regarding any changes noted, to allow for the most effective treatment option.
To that end, we have put together some of the more common signs and symptoms of MS, as well as outlying symptoms that an individual with MS may experience:
- Fatigue and weakness. As many as eight out of every ten MS patients report considerable fatigue that interferes with their daily life activities.
- Challenges with walking. MS can cause damage to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when coupled with fatigue, diminished balance, and other factors, walking becomes a challenge.
- Numbness/tingling. Among the first telltale signs and symptoms of MS, tingling and/or numbness can occur throughout the body, including the legs, arms and face.
- Difficulties with vision. Blurred vision, pain or difficulties with colors and contrast is another initial symptom for many, and warrants an immediate consultation with the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of stiffness and/or muscle spasms, 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 dizziness, lightheadedness, or, less frequently, vertigo – the sensation of the room spinning around you.
- Changes to cognitive ability. Approximately half of those with MS experience changes to brain functionality, such as focus, short-term memories, information processing, and the capability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression and other emotional changes. Either from the stress of managing the condition or from neurological changes, individuals 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
- Complications with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lower tone of voice, as well as difficulties with swallowing, can be the consequence of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and can be more serious 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 as the result of nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another infrequent symptom, affecting approximately 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is often among the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened due to nerve damage, issues with breathing may appear.
At Absolute Companion Care, we are an important part of the healthcare team of our clients with multiple sclerosis, and can help with many of the difficulties presented by this chronic condition. Reach out to the in experts providing senior care in Towson, MD and the surrounding communities at 410-357-9640 for a complimentary in-home assessment and for more information on our compassionate care team and our top-rated home care services.