MS; Demyelinating disease
Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or months. These episodes alternate with periods of reduced or no symptoms (remissions).
Fever, hot baths, sun exposure, and stress can trigger or worsen attacks.
It is common for the disease to return (relapse). However, the disease may continue to get worse without periods of remission.
Because nerves in any part of the brain or spinal cord may be damaged, patients with multiple sclerosis can have symptoms in many parts of the body.
- Loss of balance
Muscle spasms Numbnessor abnormal sensation in any area
- Problems moving arms or legs
- Problems walking
- Problems with
coordinationand making small movements Tremorin one or more arms or legs Weaknessin one or more arms or legs
Bowel and bladder symptoms:
Constipationand stool leakage
- Difficulty beginning to urinate
Frequent need to urinate
- Strong urge to urinate
- Urine leakage (
Double vision Eye discomfort Uncontrollable rapid eye movements Vision loss(usually affects one eye at a time)
Numbness, tingling, or pain
- Tingling, crawling, or burning feeling in the arms and legs
Other brain and nerve symptoms:
- Decreased attention span, poor judgment, and memory loss
- Difficulty reasoning and solving problems
Depressionor feelings of sadness Dizzinessand balance problems Hearing loss
Problems with erections
- Problems with vaginal lubrication
Speech and swallowing symptoms:
- Slurred or difficult-to-understand speech
- Trouble chewing and swallowing
Signs and tests
Symptoms of MS may mimic those of many other nervous system disorders. The disease is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions.
People who have a form of MS called relapsing-remitting may have a history of at least two attacks, separated by a period of reduced or no symptoms.
The health care provider may suspect MS if there are decreases in the function of two different parts of the central nervous system (such as abnormal reflexes) at two different times.
A neurological exam may show reduced nerve function in one area of the body, or spread over many parts of the body. This may include:
- Abnormal nerve reflexes
- Decreased ability to move a part of the body
- Decreased or abnormal sensation
- Other loss of nervous system functions
An eye examination may show:
- Abnormal pupil responses
- Changes in the
visual fieldsor eye movements Decreased visual acuity
- Problems with the inside parts of the eye
- Rapid eye movements triggered when the eye moves
Tests to diagnose multiple sclerosis include:
Lumbar puncture(spinal tap) for cerebrospinal fluid tests, including CSF oligoclonal banding MRI scan of the brainand MRI scan of the spine are important to help diagnose and follow MS
- Nerve function study (evoked potential test)