Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

I came across another great article on the topic of early symptoms of MS. Here it is for your reading enjoyment, and I’ll comment on it afterwards.

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The Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

There are several early signs of multiple sclerosis. Have you ever experienced tingling, numbness, loss of balance, weakness in one or more limbs, blurred or double vision? These are some of the most typical signs or symptoms that might suggest to a doctor that you have multiple sclerosis.

The signs may come on so gradually that you may not even know you’re having any symptoms until you look back years later. The signs can range from very mild to very severe. When mild, the signs may be barely noticeable. When severe, you may end up in the hospital wondering what is going on. The doctors may have to put you through several tests to find out the cause of your symptoms.

The when and who of MS

When do these signs or symptoms usually occur? They usually occur in women or men typically around the ages 20 to 40. Very rarely do they effect children or adults over 50, but it does happen. Most young adults are otherwise healthy and active.

They may be at the beginning of their careers, as well. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can force them to rethink and possibly even change their life goals. If the diagnosis is relapsing-remitting MS, then there may be very little change other than learning how to manage the symptoms so that they can continue working.

These early signs of multiple sclerosis can come and go over a period of several years. Vision problems are another sign that many people who come to develop MS experience early on. An episode of optic neuritis (ON) may cause your doctor to send you to a neurologist to decide if it was caused by multiple sclerosis.

Maybe it’s a CIS

Have you ever experienced one or more of the early signs of multiple sclerosis? Some people may experience what is called a clinical isolated syndrome or a CIS. It is a single symptom or a set of symptoms that happens only once. The person is only considered to have MS if the sign or symptom happens a second time. An MRI or other test must confirm that the cause is indeed a result of MS, and the diagnosis is usually said to be the relapsing-remitting type of the disease after the second attack.

Occasionally there is no second attack. About twenty to forty percent of the time, a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can’t be given. The CIS is said to be the only cause. The person has one sign or symptom that is typical of MS like optic neuritis, but no other episodes or attacks in the months or years that follow. Unfortunately, in about sixty to eighty percent of those who have a CIS, multiple sclerosis will develop later on.

List of early signs

The following is a list of the earliest signs common to MS. Of course, in and of themselves, they could be a symptom of any number of things. That’s why it takes a complete examination by a neurologist to rule out any other diseases or conditions. This examination may take more than one visit, however. A complete medical history and battery of tests, including an MRI, will show whether or not you actually have the disease.

optic neuritis
fatigue
sensations in the arms or legs
muscle weakness
lhermitte’s sign
spasticity
imbalance

Even though you may experience one of the signs or symptoms in the list above, don’t automatically assume that you have MS. The best thing to do is to go to your doctor and talk to them about your concerns. Your doctor knows your history, and you know your body better than anyone.

Sooner rather than later

You are more likely to realize that something is not right long before anyone else does. Obviously, the earlier this condition is diagnosed, the earlier you can begin to do something about it. Whether it’s learning how to manage the symptoms or making decisions about which treatments to use. If you have any of the early signs of multiple sclerosis listed above, and they are bothersome, the best course of action is to see your doctor. He or she may be able to rule out MS or some other condition. And if it turns out to be multiple sclerosis, at least you’ll know and can begin to deal with it now rather than later.

I’m Akrista L’Bert. I along with my hubby, who has multiple sclerosis have a site where we share our experience of living with multiple sclerosis. A look at MS from two perspectives – the person with multiple sclerosis and his wife and caregiver. Check out Life in Spite of MS, for more information about this disease.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Akrista_L’Bert

Akrista L'Bert - EzineArticles Expert Author

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Two definitions:

1) “Optic Neuritis” is when your immune system starts chewing on your tasty, tasty optic nerves. It can be horribly painful. It usually occurs in one eye at a time – lucky me I’ve had it twice in my left and once in my right! I started seeing things in shades of gray out of my affected eye, and then the headaches and nausea started. For me it lasts maybe a week or so, then the headaches start going away and my color vision comes back. My Neuro-Ophthalmologist told me I’d never actually regain my vision to the level that it was before the attack, but I’d get used to it and eventually wouldn’t notice a difference. She was half right – my glasses prescription in my right eye has always been weaker than my left, but now it’s taking my right eye muscles longer to respond, so it looks like my right eye prescription is stronger now, even though my prescription hasn’t actually changed. So last time I went to get glasses I was given the wrong prescription (accidentally) because my eye muscles just aren’t responding quickly enough to get an accurate reading on the fancy eye-checking machines. I went back to my old prescription and now it’s fine.

2) Lhermitte’s Sign, according to Wikipedia, is “an electrical sensation that runs down the back and into the limbs from involvement of the posterior columns, and is produced by bending the neck forward or backward.

The sign suggests a lesion of the dorsal columns of the cervical cord or of the caudal medulla. Although often considered a classic finding in multiple sclerosis, it can be caused by a number of conditions, including Behçet’s disease,[1] trauma, radiation myelopathy,[2] vitamin B12 deficiency (subacute combined degeneration), and compression of the spinal cord in the neck from any cause such as cervical spondylosis, disc herniation, tumor, and Arnold-Chiari malformation. Lhermitte’s Sign may also appear during or following high dose chemotherapy. [3] Irradiation of the cervical spine may also evoke it as an early delayed radiation injury, which occurs within 4 months of radiation therapy.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lhermitte%27s_sign]

Huh. Yah I get that too, but I didn’t know it was related to MS.

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I agree with Akrista about getting in to a doctor (preferably one who will refer you to a specialist) asap. If your body is suddenly doing crazy, unexplained things, ESPECIALLY if it involves your vision, go to your doctor. The best way to prevent big, debilitating attacks is to be diagnosed and start treatment as close to your initial presentation as possible. It’s possible something strange could just happen one day, and it could be a CIS (clinically isolated syndrome) and you won’t ever develop anything further, but it’s still best to get it into your medical record.

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One thought on “Early Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

  1. Tanya,
    Your site looks great. Very informative. Will you be offering any advice to people who know people with MS? A support group ‘do’s and don’ts’ perhaps. Keep up the great work.
    James

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