MS symptoms are unpredictable and variable. One individual may experience just one or two of these possible signs while another individual encounters several more. Symptoms commonly occur in about 80 percent of all people with MS, which can be the most prominent symptomatic sign in someone who otherwise may have few other activity restrictions. Some people experience no symptoms at all. Others experience more than one type of MS symptom. Some people with MS have minimal symptoms and only experience exacerbations when their MS activity is disrupted.
MS symptoms that affect sensory processing areas of the brain, such as visual ability and balance, occur mostly in people with ataxia (lack of movement in multiple locations). The most common MS symptoms that cause difficulty with daily function are: a tremor, a flaccid limb that is stiff and rigid, decreased awareness of where your limbs are located in space, blurred vision, decreased peripheral vision, motor skills impairment and difficulty with fine motor movements. MS numbness and weakness are also fairly common among MS sufferers. MS numbness can be due to decreased circulation in the extremities, which makes it more difficult for the nerves to transmit signals to the brain.
MS symptoms may also include a slower response time in the eye when objects are viewed. If a person with MS sees an object, he or she may initially look at it briefly and then look again, or may not even see it at all. This behavior is called flaccid paralysis and may include brief periods in which the eyes do not respond to light. This type of relapsing remitting MS symptom may include an MS disability rating of three or four on a scale of one to five.
Another first symptom is blurred vision, which affects many people with MS. When objects are seen, the eye often experiences a blurring effect where the vision is blurred or appears fuzzy. Sometimes this can be only a brief problem, such as when a car passes by, or when the sun is in the eyes. Other times it can last for an extended period of time, such as when reading a book or when working at a computer. In addition, people with MS often experience double vision, meaning they see two or more objects at the same time.
The symptoms listed above can also occur in other disorders or diseases, but MS is the only disease in which they consistently occur. Because MS symptoms often resemble those of other diseases and disorders, a health care provider can’t just assume they are MS symptoms. A definitive diagnosis can only be made after a series of tests are run. However, a healthcare provider can educate patients about the likely diagnoses of their specific case. Asking patients about their symptoms is the best way to get a true diagnosis and start treatment early.
MS is also divided into two types, primary progressive and secondary progressive. Patients who have primary progressive MS experience a decline in their central vision as they age. On the other hand, patients with secondary progressive MS experience an initial loss of central vision followed by a progressive loss of peripheral vision. If the loss of vision does not occur suddenly, then it is considered “relapsing”. Relapsing MS is associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis-related death.
There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a patient developing MS. Individuals who have used MS drugs are at a higher risk of developing MS because the drugs increase the level of uric acid in the body, which can cause inflammation of the joints. Individuals who smoke also increase their risk of developing MS because cigarettes contain a chemical that is believed to play a role in the development of MS. MS sufferers are more likely to develop MS if they have a family history of the disease. Women who are pregnant or are taking birth control pills are also at a greater risk of developing MS because of the effects that steroids have on the immune system.
It should be clear to see that there are many different MS symptoms. However, identifying the right MS symptoms is important for the proper management of multiple sclerosis. By accurately identifying MS symptoms, you will be able to determine whether or not you are developing MS. Once you know for sure what MS symptoms you have, you can take steps to try and slow down the progression of MS.
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