What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which a person’s immune system attacks the cells of their brain and spinal cord. The exact cause of MS is unknown. It is an autoimmune disease -- a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.
MS damages the nervous system to the extent that most of the patients are physically disabled in a span of 20 to 25 years. There can be symptom-free periods in between symptomatic episodes occurring months to years apart that damage different parts of the body. Some patients may not have symptom-free intervals and may experience steadily progressive worsening of symptoms.
Causative factors for MS, according to researchers:
- Role of genes
- Viral infections
- Low vitamin D levels
What are the first signs of MS?
MS presents differently in different individuals affected. Some people are affected mildly, whereas others lose their ability to read, write and speak. The early symptoms include:
- Numbness, and pins and needles sensation
- Muscle cramps and stiffness
- Bladder problems: Frequency urinating, urgency and inability to hold urine
- Bowel problems: Diarrhea, constipation and loss of bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction: Lack of arousal
- Slurred speech
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremors
- Vision problems
- Eye pain
- Double vision, especially when looking sideways
- Facial pain
- Intolerance to heat: People with MS often report an increase in fatigue or weakness when exposed to high temperatures (especially hot, humid weather), exercise, hot showers or baths, or with a fever. They may also complain of blurred vision when exposed to heat.
- Fatigue is seen in more than two-thirds of the patients.
- Generalized body and joint aches
- Reduced attention span, concentration, memory, and judgment
- Personality changes
- Difficulty walking
- Excessive itching
- Difficulty maintaining balance
What are the symptoms of MS in a woman?
MS is two times more common in women than in men. The symptoms of MS are largely similar in both men and women. However, the female hormones may make the manifestation of MS different in women. Common symptoms reported by women with MS are:
- Mood swings
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Nausea and vomiting
- Worsening of premenstrual symptoms
- Missing periods
- Trouble swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Numbness, and pins and needles sensation
- Difficulty in distinguishing between colors
- Trouble doing daily chores
- Lack of sexual arousal
- Inability to sense whether an object is hot or cold
- Muscle spasms
- Hearing loss
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremors
- Worsening of MS symptoms after menopause
What happens if a woman with MS becomes pregnant?
Fortunately, MS has not been shown to cause infertility. The physical symptoms, however, can lead to a difficult pregnancy. Many women report their symptoms become mild during pregnancy. Reduced flare-ups have also occurred during pregnancy. The beneficial effect of pregnancy on MS is transient. Women often experience a flare-up of MS symptoms postpartum. Some even experience worsening of symptoms due to the stress of pregnancy on the body.
Pregnant women and women planning pregnancy should discuss with their physicians optimal care for the mother and baby.
What age does MS start?
Symptoms of MS usually begin between the ages of 20 to 40 years. However, MS can occur at any age.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What are the First Signs of MS Related Articles
MS (Multiple Sclerosis) vs. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Differences and SimilaritiesALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) are both diseases of the nervous system (neurodegenerative). ALS is a disease in which the nerve cells in the body are attacked by the immune system, although it's not considered an autoimmune disease by some scientists. MS is an autoimmune disease in which the insulated covering of the nerves (myelin sheath) in the CNS (central nervous system) degenerate, or deteriorate.
Scientists don't know the exact cause of either problem. However, they have discovered that mutations in the gene that produces the SOD1 enzyme were associated with some cases of familial ALS. Scientists also theorize that multiple sclerosis may be caused by infection or vitamin D deficiency. ALS occurs between 50-70 years of age (the average age of occurrence ALS is 55), and mostly affects men. While MS occurs between 20-60 years of age, and mostly affects women. About 30,000 people in the US have ALS, and an average of 5,000 new diagnoses per year (that's about 15 new cases per week). Worldwide, MS affects more than 2.3 million people, with about 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year (that's about 200 new diagnoses per week).
Some of the signs and symptoms of both diseases include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, problems walking, fatigue, slurred speech, and problems swallowing. ALS signs and symptoms that are different from MS include problems holding the head upright, clumsiness, muscle cramps and twitches, problems holding objects, and uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying. MS signs and symptoms that are different from ALS include vision problems, vertigo and balance problems, sexual problems, memory problems, depression, mood swings, and digestive problems.
There is no cure for either disease, however the prognosis and life expectancy are different. Multiple sclerosis is not a fatal condition, while ALS progresses rapidly and leads to death.
Botox to Treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS)Botulinum toxin is a muscle-relaxing medication used to decrease spasticity related to multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions. Botulinum toxin is derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. There are three types of botulinum toxin available for therapeutic use.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between age 20 and 40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life ExpectancyMultiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Making an MS Friendly HomeAdults with multiple sclerosis may be at risk for injuries, hazards, and falling at home. Some simple home modifications can protect your health and safety and facilitate fall prevention. Reduce your risk of accidents and prevent hazards with these tips.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and PregnancyMultiple sclerosis or MS is a central nervous system disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin sheath (the protective coating around nerves). Symptoms of MS include pain, sexual problems, fatigue, numbness and tingling, emotional changes, and depression.
Women who are pregnant and have multiple sclerosis may have more difficulty carrying a pregnancy. Multiple sclerosis does not affect ability to conceive, and does not seem to affect fertility. MS symptoms during pregnancy may stay the same or get better; however, they may worsen after giving birth. Pregnancy decreases the number of relapses, but flares increase in the first 3-6 months after delivery. Pregnant women with MS may carrying a pregnancy more difficult to tell when labor starts, and there is an increased need to use forceps or vacuum to assist with delivery or b7 C-section (Cesarean birth) increases.
Some treatment MS drugs may be safe to use during pregnancy; however, some drugs should not be taken, for example, baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), or solifenacin succinate (VESIcare), and most disease-modifying therapies (DMTs).
Talk with your healthcare team about vitamins, supplements, and medications that you are taking if you are pregnant and have MS.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Early Warning Signs and TypesMultiple sclerosis (MS) can be thought of as an immune-mediated inflammatory process involving different areas of the central nervous system (CNS) at various points in time. Early warning signs and symptoms of MS in children, teens, and adults are similar; however, children and teens with pediatric also may have seizures and a complete lack of energy. Adults with MS do not have these signs and symptoms. Other signs and symptoms of MS include inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), changes in vision, Wiping or having tissues around the eye and moving the eye may be painful, and double vision. There are four types of MS, relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and progressive relapsing MD (PRMS).
MS QuizMultiple Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition. Take the MS Quiz to test your knowledge of the causes, symptoms, risks and treatments.