Its cause is still unknown, but affecting over one million people in the United States alone, multiple sclerosis can cause an extensive and unpredictable range of symptoms and severity. What we do know is the fact that women are much more likely to develop MS, and that each person living with MS will experience it in different ways, with symptoms changing and evolving throughout the progression of the disease.
Living with MS can be very difficult, but it is much easier to manage when you are aware of the symptoms to watch for and remain in communication with your healthcare team with regard any changes noted, to allow for the most effective treatment option.
To that end, we have collected some of the most typical as well as outlying symptoms that someone with MS can experience:
- Weakness and fatigue. Up to eight out of every ten MS patients report significant fatigue that interferes with their daily activities.
- Difficulties with walking. MS can result in damage to the nerves that stimulate muscles, and when coupled with fatigue, diminished balance, and other factors, walking becomes a challenge.
- Numbness/tingling. One of the first telltale signs and symptoms of MS, numbness and/or tingling can occur throughout the body, including the face, arms and legs.
- Difficulties with vision. Pain, blurred vision, or difficulties with colors and contrast is another initial symptom for many, and warrants an immediate trip to the eye doctor.
- Spasticity. Spasticity is the feeling of muscle spasms and/or stiffness, and develops most often in the legs.
- Bowel/bladder problems. Constipation and bladder dysfunction, while extremely common, can typically be remedied with medications, diet, physical exercise, and hydration.
- Dizziness. Many people with multiple sclerosis report dizziness, lightheadedness, or, less frequently, vertigo – the sensation of the room spinning around you.
- Shifts in cognitive ability. Approximately half of those with MS experience changes to brain functionality, for example, focus, short-term memories, information processing, and also the ability to accurately perceive their environment.
- Depression along with other emotional changes. Either from the pressure of managing the disease or from neurological changes, people who have MS most frequently experience depression in its most severe form – clinical depression – and may experience mood swings, uncontrollable laughing or crying, and increased irritability.
Less Common Symptoms
- Issues with speaking or swallowing. Slurring words and speaking in a lowered tone of voice, along with problems with swallowing, can be the outcome of nerve damage in the mouth and throat muscles, and can be worse during times of fatigue.
- Seizures and tremors. While rare, seizures can occur as a result of either scarring in the brain or abnormal electrical discharges. Tremors might be noticeable as well due to nerve damage.
- Loss of hearing. Although another rare symptom, affecting approximately 6% of MS patients, hearing loss is oftentimes one of the first symptoms reported.
- Trouble with breathing. When chest muscles are weakened because of nerve damage, issues with breathing may appear.
As the leaders provider of Kansas City home care services, Hearts at Home In-Home Care is an important part of the healthcare team for our clients with multiple sclerosis, and can help provide assistance to those with this chronic condition in a variety of ways. Email or call us at 913-440-4209 for a free in-home consultation for more information regarding our compassionate care team and our experienced Kansas City home care services. For a full list of all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.