A study conducted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates that there are almost one million people in the United States living with multiple sclerosis (or MS). MS is progressive, immune-mediated disorder. It is a disease affecting the connections between the spinal cord and brain that causes the body to attack parts of your body that are necessary for everyday functions. Although the cause for the condition is unknown, scientists believe genetics and environmental factors play a factor.
There is not one specific test that diagnoses MS. When assessing MS, doctors use a combination of lab tests, medical history and neurological exams to rule out other diseases, this eventually leads to a MS diagnosis. Early warning symptoms of multiple sclerosis start in people between the ages of 20- to 50-years of age. The disease is more common in women. While some people may experience only one symptom others encounter a combination of several symptoms. Symptoms can be overlapping and last for various amounts of time and may include:
1. Vision problems
Usually one of the first symptoms patients with MS experience is blurred vision. This occurs due to damage in the patient’s optic nerves. Vision problems can include involuntary rapid eye movement, double vision, blurred vision and possible periods of complete vision loss.
2. Tingling and numbness
People with MS can experience tingling and numbness in their body. The persistent prickling sensations can happen in any part of your body. Common sites of numbness include the arms, fingers, face and legs.
3. Pain and spasms
Many patients with MS will have periods of pain and spasms. This occurs due to imbalance of signals between their spinal cord and brain. The pain and spasms commonly occurs in the arms and legs.
4. Weakness or fatigue
One of the most common symptoms of MS is fatigue. It occurs in 80 percent of patients. Patients typically experience fatigue on a daily basis starting in the morning and increasing weakness throughout the day. Patients can also experience memory and thinking issues. This could be limited attention span, issues with memory, decision making or issues concentrating. Memory and thinking problems affect 50-percent of people with MS.
5. Balance problems or dizziness
Many people with MS have episodes of dizziness. Approximately 20-percent of patients with MS experience vertigo or feeling off balance.
6. Bladder issues and cognitive problems
MS patients begin to experience bladder problems when nerve signals to the bladder are delayed or blocked. Patients may experience increased frequency of urinating or a bladder that does not empty properly. Approximately 80-percent of MS patients will experience bladder issues.
If you are experiencing any of these early warning signs of multiple sclerosis it is recommended that you talk to your doctor.