Know about the symptoms and causes of multiple sclerosis (MS)

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system erroneously attacks the protective covering of nerve cells known as myelin which leads to nerve damage. It primarily affects the spinal cord and the brain functions and can cause a variety of problems related to vision, balance, and movement. Its symptoms vary from person to person. For some, it can be a permanent disorder with severe symptoms. Moreover, for certain individuals, the condition could even go undiagnosed because of mild signs.

Symptoms and causes of multiple sclerosis (MS)
The following are some of the common symptoms associated with MS.

  • Eyesight problems – One of the most common symptoms of MS, the inflammation affects the optic nerve and disrupts central vision. This can lead to double or blurred sight. In extreme cases, it can also cause severe damage like loss of vision. You might not notice the deteriorating vision issues immediately, MS’ effect can be incredibly slow.
  • Fatigue – In the early stages of MS, most patients face unexplained physical and mental tiredness. Such type of chronic fatigue happens when the nerves in the spinal column begin to weaken. Usually, individuals observe that it affects their legs first. It can take a few weeks for this symptom to subside.
  • Numbness and tingling – Since MS mainly deters the brain and spinal nerves, there can be chaos in the body signals. This confusion can lead to a tingling sensation. At times, zero signals are transmitted which results in numbness. They commonly occur in the arms, legs, fingers, and face.
  • Dizziness – People suffering from MS often have issues pertaining to coordination and balance. For instance, when they stand up, they might suddenly feel woozy and experience vertigo.
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction – Approximately, 80% of the individuals dealing with MS experience bladder dysfunction which includes an urgent need to urinate or incapability to hold the bladder. In rare cases, this can be accompanied by digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, and in extreme situations, loss of bowel control.
  • Cognitive issues – Around 50% of the patients with MS deal with some problem with their cognitive functions. This can comprise issues related to memory, concentration, language and organization.
  • Emotional distress – Managing MS can become more challenging as episodes of depression, mood swings, irritability, etc. are common too. A person might also experience the pseudobulbar affect, which encompasses spells of uncontrollable laughing and crying.
  • Pain – Chronic pain in the muscles is quite usual for patients enduring MS. Along with the pain, they might also feel spasms and stiffness in the joints and muscles.

Additional symptoms could comprise slurred speech, respiratory problems, difficulty while swallowing, seizures, hearing problems, etc.

The exact cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) is not yet discovered. However, experts believe that a number of factors possibly influence such behavior such as genetics, weak immunity system, illnesses, or environmental factors. Interestingly, women are more likely to be affected by MS than men, mostly between the age frame 20 to 40. It also observed that individuals of northern European descent have higher chances of getting MS.