The disease multiple sclerosis affects the body's central nervous system. When the disease takes hold, multiple sclerosis symptoms can be painful and debilitating. This experience can be terrifying for a patient who previously lived a full and healthy life.
Sudden physical limitations and mood swings can be extremely difficult for the patient and their family. To help you understand what you or your loved one is going through, we'll explain some of the most common symptoms of MS and give you some tips for coping them.
MS symptoms usually appear between the ages of 20 and 40. The onset of MS may be dramatic or so mild that a person doesn't even notice any symptoms until far later in the course of the disease. Primary symptoms include impairment of the necessary transmission of electrical brain signals to muscles and the organs of the body.
The symptoms include weakness, tremors, tingling and numbness, loss of balance, vision impairment, paralysis, and bladder or bowel problems. Secondary symptoms result from primary symptoms. For example, paralysis can lead to bedsores, incontinence, and recurring urinary tract infections.
These symptoms can be treated, but the ideal goal is to avoid them by treating the primary symptoms. Tertiary symptoms are the social, psychological, and vocational complications associated with the primary and secondary symptoms. Depression, for example, is a common problem among people with MS.
Fatigue is the most common symptom of MS. It is typically present in the mid afternoon and may consist of increased muscle weakness, mental fatigue, sleepiness or drowsiness. Many MS patients report a sensitivity to heat that worsens when they go outside or take a shower. Muscle spasms are a common and often debilitating symptom of MS.
Spasticity usually affects the muscles of the legs and arms, and may interfere with a person's ability to move those muscles freely. Many people with MS complain of dizziness and lightheadedness. These symptoms are caused by damage in the complex nerve pathways that coordinate vision and other inputs into the brain that are needed to maintain balance.
Perhaps the most frightening of all multiple sclerosis symptoms is cognitive impairment. Almost half of all MS patients report slowed thinking, difficulty concentrating and loss of short term memory. Some people experience problems with their vision, but these are moderate issues that do not include blindness.
Abnormal sensations can range from numbness to extreme pain. These symptoms can be treated. However, speech and swallowing problems, tremors and problems walking can be difficult to treat because these symptoms come as a result of damaged nerves.
Dealing with your multiple sclerosis symptoms does not have to be difficult or time consuming. You may not be able to do everything that you once enjoyed, but taking medication and making a few key lifestyle choices can ensure that you still live a full life. For more multiple sclerosis information, research the disease online or contact the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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