While discovered 150 years ago, the cause of MS remains unknown. What we do know is that nerve damage is caused by inflammation, but the cause of the inflammation is still unknown. This means that there is no cure yet.
Because of the different types of MS and the plethora of possible symptoms, 50+ symptoms can be linked to MS. Many people can therefore go undiagnosed for any length of time.
You may have a single symptom, and then go months or years without any others. A problem can also happen just one time, go away, and never return. For some people, the symptoms become worse within weeks or months. Some symptoms of multiple sclerosis are mild and cause inconvenience; others may be severe and debilitating.
Early Symptoms of MS
- Blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Double vision
- Loss of vivid colours
- Loss of vision in one eye
- Visual distortions
- Eye pain
- Thinking problems
- Clumsiness or a lack of coordination
- Loss of balance
- Prickling pain
- Paraesthesia (weakness in an arm or leg)
- Muscle spasms in arms or legs
- Difficulties with speech
- Heat intolerance
- Loss of sensation
- Sexual dysfunction
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (can develop in more serious cases)
Primary symptoms come from damage to the protective sheath around the nerves in your spine or brain. The damage causes scarring, which makes it harder for signals to travel between the brain and the body. This process can lead to bladder or bowel problems, loss of balance, numbness, paralysis, tingling, tremors, vision problems, or weakness.
Secondary symptoms follow the main problems of MS. For instance, not being able to empty your bladder can lead to a bladder infection. Doctors can treat secondary symptoms, but the goal is to avoid them by treating the primary symptoms.
Tertiary symptoms are the social, psychological, and job-related problems of living with MS. For instance, if MS makes it hard for you to walk or drive, you may not be able to do your job well.
It is also quite important to comprehend that some of these symptoms can be related to a different illness altogether. Comparing yourself to others with MS is therefore not wise, and neither is self-diagnosing yourself via the internet. If or when you feel symptoms that you cannot explain, do see your GP or ask him/her to refer you to a neurologist, as only neurologists can make a definitive diagnosis.
Neurologically challenged by MS and personally by her will to succeed, Willeke is a disability awareness advocate seeking to improve neurological/MS services in Ireland. By highlighting difficult issues that come with such a diagnosis, she hopes her tenacity can bring some dignity to people most in need of a modern, inclusive healthcare system that looks after every aspect of life.
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.