Know the Early Warning Signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis is a serious and potentially disabling autoimmune condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. Specifically, the body’s immune system targets and attacks the myelin, a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that forms a protective sheath around nerve fibers. As the nerves gradually deteriorate, the transmission of signals between the brain and the rest of the body may be disrupted and ultimately lost.
Because there is currently no cure for MS, treatment focuses on slowing its progression and alleviating its symptoms. Therefore, to achieve the best possible outcome, it is essential to diagnose and treat multiple sclerosis in its earliest stages. Toward that end, here are some warning signs to watch for:
- Vision problems — If MS affects the optic nerve, it can cause blurred vision, double vision, uncontrollable eye movements, or pain in one or both eyes.
- Muscle weakness and spasms — MS can make it difficult to coordinate the muscles in the hands or feet, or otherwise cause clumsiness.
- Tingling sensations — The legs or feet may feel numb, as if they have “fallen asleep,” but without the pressure of a body position that has restricted circulation.
- Balance issues — MS can lead to benign positional vertigo, which can create a generally unbalanced feeling, particularly when stepping off a curb or over an obstacle, or when sitting up after lying down.
- Sudden body temperature changes — The body may rapidly change temperature from hot to cold, usually starting in the hands or feet and radiating toward the body’s core.
- Digestive issues — MS can sometimes cause bloating, constipation, and unintended weight loss.
- Cognitive problems — MS can make it difficult to concentrate and remember names and words.
- Exhaustion — Intense fatigue may come on very suddenly, making it difficult to move and perform simple tasks, such as getting out of bed.
It’s also important to note that MS often takes a “relapsing-remitting” course, which means that its symptoms may last for a few days or weeks, improve partially or completely, then be followed by a “quiet” period of remission. If you are familiar with the warning signs of MS, you will be more likely to seek medical attention and receive appropriate treatment for the condition before it starts to significantly impact your quality of life.
If you would like to consult with a doctor about symptoms you are experiencing, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by a doctor who is experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of health conditions.