Health & Medical Neurological Conditions

What Are the Initial Symptoms of the MS?

    The Facts

    • Initial symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis include blurred or double vision; red-green color distortion; pain and loss of vision due to optic neuritis, which is an inflammation of the optic nerve; difficulty walking and paresthesia, which is the term for abnormal sensation, or pain, such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles." Multiple Sclerosis is not hereditary or contagious. It is thought that Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, where the body for unknown reasons attacks the myelin sheath. It may be caused by a virus.


    • Multiple Sclerosis has four main types. Relapsing-Remitting, which accounts for 85 percent of initial diagnoses, happens when attacks of symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are juxtaposed with periods of normalcy. Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis occurs when symptoms gradually increase over time, with no relapses. About 10 percent of cases of Multiple Sclerosis are this type, and it affects men and women equally. Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis follows Relapsing-Remitting type 50 percent of the time, 10 years after the initial diagnosis. In this type, a case that was Relapsing-Remitting begins to act like Primary Progressive. Finally, about 5 percent of cases are Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. In this type, cases begin like Primary Progressive, but also have flare ups that escalate but do not go into remission.


    • No definitive test can diagnose Multiple Sclerosis. Identifying Multiple Sclerosis occurs by looking at the patient's history of symptoms. To diagnose Multiple Sclerosis, at least two flare ups one month apart need to have happened, and there needs to be damage to the myelin sheath that is not caused by another factor. To identify Multiple Sclerosis, an MRI, blood tests (to rule out other causes), evoked potential tests and cerebrospinal tests are done.


    • A typical diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis happens between the ages of 15 to 40, though it can occur in young children. People from countries far from the equator are more susceptible, as are people of northern European decent. Women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The geographical differences of who gets Multiple Sclerosis are interesting. For example, people from the coastal towns of Norway have a lower instance of the disease than those living inland, and there are more cases in urban areas than in rural areas.


    • According to research by Schering A.G., 54 percent of those surveyed believed that Multiple Sclerosis was untreatable. Actually, it is treatable, with medications and therapies that lessen symptoms and make daily activities doable. This same survey also found that the majority of those surveyed thought that people with Multiple Sclerosis are wheel-chair bound and cannot work. This is not true. Most people with Multiple Sclerosis have relatively mild Multiple Sclerosis.

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