Signs and symptoms of MS depend on various factors such as the relevant affected nerves and the amount of nerve damage induced. They may differ significantly from one person to another and throughout the disease course. Depending on the type of MS, the symptoms may disappear and reappear or steadily progress over time. (Read more about “what is MS?”)
Some of the most prevalent MS symptoms include:
- Movement problems can be a result of spasms, muscle weakness, coordination issues, clumsiness, or dizziness. People might experience a change in gait, feet numbness, and trouble walking.
- Vision problems such as involuntary eye movements (nystagmus) or double vision (diplopia).
- Fatigue that is accompanied by muscle weakness, brain fog, or sleepiness. Some people with MS might feel fatigued even after a good night’s sleep.
- Heat intolerance can also induce fatigue, weakness, or trouble controlling certain body parts. Usually, these symptoms are temporary and disappear once the body cools down.
- Muscle spasms typically affect the leg muscles. They might manifest as mild stiffness or painful and intense spasms.
- Bladder and bowel problems that may involve frequently urinating day and night, or having trouble emptying the bladder fully. Bowel issues, such as constipation, are also common.
- Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction for men and vaginal dryness for women. MS can also result in reduced sensitivity to touch, lower sex drive, or difficulty in reaching orgasms.
- The foggy brain can cause trouble to focus at times, pay attention, think fast, or remember details. MS doesn’t change someone’s intellect or capabilities, such as reading, writing, or understanding conversation.
- Speech problems such asslurred or nasal speech, sometimes long pauses between words.
- Tremors that can range from minor, inconsequential shakes to intense shivering that interferes with daily activities.
- Strange sensations such as pins and needles, unrelenting itching or burning sensations, and tearing pains (Dysesthesia).
Some symptoms are a result of the damage to myelin, while others are secondary. For example, a bladder infection might be a result of not being able to empty the bladder. Bone density problems, weak muscle tone, or shallow breathing can result from a sedentary lifestyle due to fatigue and inactivity.
There are a few conditions that can temporarily aggravate symptoms; some of them might include:
- Having an infection such as the flu, common cold, stomach bug, or a bladder infection.
If your MS symptoms worsen, and they worry you by disrupting normal daily activities, or affecting your quality of life – don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your medical team about it.