Here are 5 Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms You Should Know About

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According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, at least 1 million Americans are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). They are also part of the world count, which currently sits at around 2.3 million people that have been diagnosed with MS globally. 

Neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Roumen Balabanov, M.D. shares, “Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).” This debilitating condition is thought to be an autoimmune disease since the immune system attacks the protective fatty substance that protects the nerve fibers in the spinal cord and brain. 

Although both girls and boys can get MS, as well as children of either gender, statistics show that women are diagnosed with MS at least twice more than men, and most patients are normally between the ages of 15 to 60. And if you happen to have a family member that suffers from the disease as well, or happens to have another autoimmune disorder, your chances of getting it are even higher. Your risk also increases if you’re a smoker with a history of mononucleosis (otherwise known as mono or the kissing disease) as well.

Now the question remains, if you had MS, would you be able to tell? Experts say that the answer to that is, it really depends. The problem with MS is that early symptoms tend to come and go; while you might have some symptoms early on, they can easily disappear for months, even years, before coming back and making themselves known. But there are still some main symptoms that you can look out for. See these 5 main symptoms below:

1. Fatigue and Weakness

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One main symptom of multiple sclerosis is fatigue and weakness. In fact, in the early stages of the disease, around 80% of people with MS complain that they feel sluggish, weak and have unexplainable muscle weakness that normally begins in the legs. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, along with chronic fatigue comes numbness and tingling as well, and this type of exhaustion normally comes on suddenly, lasting for weeks at a time before eventually getting better. 

2. Muscles Spasms and Pain


Most of the time, MS is associated with muscle spasms, muscle stiffness and persistent leg pain, as shared by most MS patients. The National MS Society shares that at least 55% of patients that suffer from MS complain of unyielding pain at one time or another. It is also notable that most women complain about this symptom more than men do. 

3. Bladder Challenges                         

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One of the other persistent symptoms of MS is the constant need to pee. If you feel like you can’t get to the bathroom fast enough and the urge to urinate is strong, or you have actual incontinence, this could be an early sign of the disease. Many times women think that these are just after-effects of childbirth, but in reality, they could actually be due to a much more critical issue. Other symptoms that go in line with bladder problems is sexual dysfunction, which is important to take note of as well.  

4. Vision Problems

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When people get older, they tend to blame their bad eyesight on age, as well as spending too much time staring at their computer screen. But there are times when bad eyesight or vision problems could actually be symptoms that you have multiple sclerosis. When it is due to MS, it’s because of inflammation within the optic nerve caused by the disease. If you notice that your vision has been blurry often, or you’ve had issues with double vision, be sure to speak to your doctor about the possibility of having MS. 

5. Memory Issues

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Multiple sclerosis affects the nervous system, so cognitive or memory issues are not uncommon symptoms. These types of problems can manifest as memory or language mishaps or slip-ups, an inability to stay organized, or being easily distracted or you have a shortened attention span. Although it can be a solid symptom, only 5 to 10% of patients diagnosed with MS actually suffer from cognitive or memory issues bad enough to affect their everyday life. 

What do you do if you think you have MS?

First and foremost, make an appointment to see your primary doctor about the symptoms you are feeling. If they think that it’s needed, they could refer you to a neurologist who is better equipped to check out your case. You will probably be put through an eye exam and a neurological exam as well. And for other cases, a spinal tap is required in order for the doctor to take a sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord to confirm the disease. 

Since MS isn’t easy to diagnose and may actually take some time to know for certain, patients need to be patient as they do the necessary testing to have a final prognosis. It is also important to seek out a second opinion, should a patient feel like the first one wasn’t sure or thorough enough. Sadly, a number of patients have shared that they have been misdiagnosed with the disease by other doctors, which is why it’s important to observe and take notice of any signs or symptoms you might be feeling to share with an MS specialist if, and when, the time comes.