Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. It is characterized by the immune system attacking healthy cells and tissues, making it one of the autoimmune disorders. MS commonly manifests in women aged 20-30 and presents a variety of symptoms due to the damage to myelin, the insulation material around nerve cells. It is worth noting that no two individuals experience identical symptoms.
Some individuals may have only one symptom persisting for months or even years, while others may experience symptoms that come and go. The irregular nature of the disease often makes it difficult for individuals to recognize whether they have multiple sclerosis. Let’s explore the most common symptoms of MS as outlined by the health information platform “WebMD.”
Abnormal Sensations: Apart from the common tingling sensation, MS often causes severe itching, stabbing or tearing pains. Some individuals may experience a squeezing sensation around the ribs or upper abdomen.
Dizziness and Lack of Coordination: Individuals with MS may feel dizzy, experience vertigo while lying down, or have a spinning sensation, indicating a problem with the inner ear responsible for balance. Difficulties in walking, maintaining balance, or changes in gait may also be observed.
Lack of Concentration and Problem-Solving Difficulties: MS can lead to difficulties in concentration. Symptoms may include slower thinking, reduced concentration, and blurred memory. While some individuals struggle to perform daily activities due to severe impairments, such cases are rare. Generally, MS does not affect intelligence or the ability to understand and engage in conversations.
Vision Problems: In addition to optic neuritis, an early sign of MS known as clinically isolated syndrome, other eye-related issues such as nystagmus (involuntary eye movement) and diplopia (double vision) may occur.
Tremors and Muscle Spasms: Approximately half of MS patients experience tremors, ranging from mild to severe. Some individuals may find it challenging to engage in routine activities due to significant tremors. Muscle spasms typically affect the leg muscles and are often an initial symptom in individuals with MS. It can also impact those with progressive MS, leading to mild stiffness or intense and painful spasms.
Sexual Dysfunction: MS can manifest sexual problems. Women may experience vaginal dryness, while men may encounter erectile dysfunction. Both genders may experience reduced sensitivity or a decrease in sexual desire.
Bladder and Bowel Issues: Increased frequency of urination, nocturia (waking up during the night to urinate), and a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder even after urination are common bladder-related symptoms. Problems related to the bowel, such as constipation, are also frequently reported.
Speech and Swallowing Problems: Individuals with MS may occasionally experience interruptions in speech, slurred speech, or nasal voice. As the disease progresses, swallowing difficulties may arise.
Fatigue: Profound fatigue is a common symptom of MS. Some individuals often feel extremely tired in the afternoons, with weakened muscles, slowed thinking, or drowsiness. This fatigue is not necessarily associated with excessive physical exertion, and even after a good night’s sleep, some individuals continue to feel fatigued.