Multiple Sclerosis: What are the early warning signs of the disease?
Published Oct 28, 2022 • By Rahul Roy
Sometimes the small problems accumulate over time and that is why early diagnosis and treatment of a disease as volatile as Multiple Sclerosis is important for the health of an individual.
But what is Multiple Sclerosis? What are the early symptoms that threaten its onset? And what can be done to manage the condition?
We find out in this article!
Unlike other diseases that generally occur as you grow older, multiple sclerosis issues can develop at a young age and in fact affects more young people than any other chronic neurological disease. It is a lifelong condition who’s effects vary from person to person. It is interesting to note that it is more common in women than men and the average age of a MS afflicted person varies between 20-40 years of age.
It is estimated that around 130,000 people are living in the UK with MS. Since it develops internally over time, it cannot be passed from one person to another but experts believe it could be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
So what is MS? Why does it occur?
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system of an individual mainly the brain and spinal cord. The central nervous system contains nerve cells which are used to transmit and receive information from different parts of the body. From simple activities such as opening or closing your hand to complex ones such as juggling a few balls, the nerve cells play a big role.
In this auto immune condition, the immunity system mistakenly attacks the protective covers of the nerve fibers (called myelin), causing communication problems between the brain and other parts of the body. This damages the nerves meaning that it is not able to send signals properly, causing pain in some key body parts.
The areas where the damage takes place are called lesions and these areas cause the sensation of pain to the individual. At the early stages of MS, the body tries to mend the damaged myelin, but over time and without adequate care, there will be less and less resistance. So, it can be noted that MS slowly builds up over time.
Damage to the myelin in different body parts directly correspond to the symptoms and pains experienced by a patient. This is the reason why there are different types of MS and each person’s MS is not the same. It could be progressive or relapsing and this why diagnosis can sometimes be complicated.
How to detect the early signs of MS?,
Although it might be difficult to easily recognize the onset of MS, with close attention and care, it can be diagnosed early, especially with a doctor’s consultation. The pattern is not the same for everyone and expert medical advice is the most reliable source of information.
So what are the early signs of MS that a person should be aware of?-
Unlike normal tiredness, which a person might feel at the end of the day, MS induced fatigue is very overwhelming and heavy, typically taking place in the afternoons and causes weakened muscles, slowed thinking and coordination, and a constant need for sleep even if the person just rested.
Painful vision problems
Although vision problems can happen because of a plethora reasons, MS induced vision problems are characterized by pain in the eyes along with vision loss and blurriness in one or both eyes caused due to inflammation of the optic nerve. Colors may appear dull and eye movement causes a sharp pain. These signs are a good sign to make an appointment with a qualified practitioner to get checked.
Numbness and Tingling
Numbness, particularly in the legs and face is one of the early signs of MS coupled with a tingly sensation that is comparable to the feeling a person would get after sleeping on his/her arm for a long period of time. It can be accompanied by mild tremors and shakes and if it persists for a few days, it might be time to get it checked out.
Bladder and Bowel Complications
Problems affecting the bladder and the bowel are prominent MS signals. It could range from difficulty passing urine or sometimes peeing too often. Bowel problems like constipation are also quite common. The body finds it difficult to store and empty bodily fluids and waste seamlessly, and this symptom should be viewed with suspicion.
Dizziness and loss of balance
Typical dizziness only lasts for a couple of hours but if it happens over a few days with a feeling of light headedness, it is an indicator to get checked out. Moreover, this impacts the coordination and balance of an individual, causing problems relating to basic body movement.
Depression and emotional change
When people think of nerve damage or complications, it is mainly associated with restricted body movements and related pain, but nerve cells and fibers also exist in the brain that can be damaged too, especially in those areas responsible for emotional cognition. A sudden change in emotions over an extended period of time is a cause for worry.
This can take place in either genders as the nerve cells relating to the arousal of the sex organs gets damaged, causing vaginal dryness in women and erotic dysfunction in men. MS can also influence psychological factors that has a direct impact on the sexual drive and desire of an individual.
Another early sign of MS is slurry speech along with an incapability to understand clearly what the other person is saying. It causes the individual to take long pauses between words, due to a fuzzy memory, and over time may face difficulty in swallowing.
These are some of the most prominent early signs of MS and it is highly recommended to get checked by a doctor, when one or more of these issues arise. Presently there doesn’t exist a cure to eradicate the disease, however there exists treatments to alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the afflicted person.
Regular exercise and physiotherapy go a long way in easing the symptoms, along with a balanced diet that is high in fibres and protein and low in fats.
Online support groups such as Carenity are available if a person wishes to share his challenges and experiences to talk to other people with similar conditions. It has been found to be a great coping mechanism, and even speaking to another person with MS directly can help a person better understand the disease so as to better take care of himself/herself. Use equipment such as canes or walkers as prescribed by the medical authorities.
MS is a lifelong ailment that will provide its own set of obstacles as time passes by. It may seem hard to navigate at times, but it is important to focus on the symptoms and communicating that information to the doctor so they can prescribe the right medications and treatments. A positive attitude can do wonders and always remember to take it day by day.
Was this article helpful to you?
Give it a like and share your thoughts and questions with the community in the comments below!
Multiple Sclerosis (MS): Symptoms, Diagnosis, and More (healthline.com)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) - symptoms, treatment and types | (healthdirect.com)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) | Johns Hopkins Medicine (hopkinsmedicine.org)
Multiple sclerosis - Symptoms and causes - (MayoClinic.com)
Multiple sclerosis - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Who Gets MS? | National Multiple Sclerosis Society (nationalmssociety.org)
What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - (MSAustralia.com)
MS: the facts | (MSTrust.org)
Early signs of MS | Multiple Sclerosis Society UK (mssociety.org.uk)
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms & Early Warning Signs of MS (webmd.com)
4 Early Signs of MS You Shouldn't Ignore – Cleveland Clinic (health.clevelandclinic.org)
Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis | Rush System (rush.edu)
MS Symptoms & Early Signs of MS | Shepherd Center (shepherd.org)
Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Common Symptoms (verywellhealth.com)
7 Inspiring Multiple Sclerosis Quotes & Sayings (healthline.com)
You will also like
MS, prickling sensations, treatments: my battle to walk again
Jan 15, 2020 • 5 comments
Nicolas' story: Pursuing athletic dreams despite MS
May 10, 2019 • 8 comments