The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are variable, depending on the area of the nervous system that is damaged, the extent, severity and number of the lesions
The symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are different for each person, this is why MS is often called “the disease of a thousand faces.”
Some of the first discomforts that may appear are numbness, visual disturbances and muscle paralysis.
The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are fatigue, lack of balance, pain, gait disturbances, visual and cognitive disorders, speech difficulties, tremor, etc.
In the most frequent form of the disease (relapsing-remitting), these symptoms will appear in the form of outbreaks or exacerbations, but they may also appear progressively in the case of progressive primary Multiple Sclerosis.
We can classify the symptoms in large groups, according to the parts of the organism and functionalities affected.
Most people only experience some of these symptoms.
Main symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Disorders of the march
Gait disorder in Multiple Sclerosis is common even in the early stages of the disease. Half of the patients already report some alteration in the quality of their march within the first month after diagnosis or even before being diagnosed.
In addition, it is the most symptom for patients and the one that most affects their activity.
The causes of the alteration of the gait are diverse and influence different aspects such as muscle strength, balance, coordination, proprioception (awareness of one’s own body), vision, spasticity, fatigue and even cognitive aspects.
Sensory disorders and pain
Those affected by Multiple Sclerosis almost always report a sensation of numbness or tingling, tension around the joints or hip, pain or decreased sensitivity of the skin.
Often these discomforts start at the tips of the fingers and extend through the arms and legs. It is also common to experience a kind of whiplash along the spine when flexing the neck.
An abnormal sweating is also frequent in those affected with MS.
It seems that headaches are more frequent in people with Multiple Sclerosis than in the general population.
Often muscles weaken, tire easily, are tense (spastic) and rigid. Muscular paralysis also manifests itself in the arms and legs, sometimes on only one side of the body.
Muscle weakness can be intensified with heat, fever or exertion.
In 70% of those affected by Multiple Sclerosis there is an inflammation of the optic nerve, resulting in eye pain that worsens with the movement of the eyeball. Those affected see through an eye as if they were looking through a veil or through fog.
Your color vision, central vision, may also be affected, or you may see double if paralysis of the eye muscles occurs.
Facial paralysis and speech disorders
When Multiple Sclerosis affects the function of some cranial nerves, facial paralysis or pain (trigeminal neuralgia) can occur, as well as taste disorders. If the cerebellum is damaged there may be disturbances in the speech, often accompanied by difficulties in walking and trembling hands.
The deterioration of certain cranial nerves can also produce balance disorders.
Bladder and bowel disorders
Bladder functionak disorders, which can greatly limit the daily life and well-being of those affected by Multiple Sclerosis, occur in two thirds of cases. Incontinence occurs in the early stages and later there may be an unwanted retention of urine. Constipation and other intestinal function disorders may also occur.
Sexual function disorders
It can cause problems of erection and lubrication, decreased excitation and loss of sensitivity.
Fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis can have several causes. It may be related to neuromuscular disability, as well as to the changes and efforts involved in carrying out common activities and having to deal with mobility problems.
If MS affects breathing, the simplest activities can be strenuous.
In those affected by Multiple Sclerosis, there may be slow processing of information, failure of attention capacity, memory problems and alterations in executive functions, such as the ability to plan or solve problems.
Those affected may be more apathetic, unmotivated, or, on the contrary, uninhibited and impulsive.
These cognitive alterations, less apparent than others, can generate incomprehension, both on the part of the person affected and their environment, and affect their emotional state.
The disease, together with the set of its disabling symptoms, influences the emotional state of the person, which can show mood swings and depressive symptoms such as sadness, insomnia and lack of energy.
Depression and anxiety are emotional states that occur frequently and contribute to the life of the affected people being more expensive and dependent.
Source of the image: Efesalud. Infografía Merck