Multiple sclerosis warning signs vary from person to person. The symptoms a patient experiences depends on what part of the brain is affected.
Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is an autoimmune disease. The disease affects the brain and spinal cord, which results in loss of muscle control, vision, balance and sensation.
The name multiple sclerosis refers to the buildup of scar tissue, or sclerosis, in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin, a protective covering on the nerves, is destroyed in a process known as demyelination, which causes scar tissue to form. Myelin protects and insulates the nerves. Without the myelin, electrical signals transmitted throughout the brain and spinal cord are disrupted or halted. This means that after demyelination, the brain is unable to send and receive messages from the affected parts of the body.
This communication breakdown is what causes the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The body does replace the myelin, but not at a pace fast enough to offset the symptoms of MS.
Early Warning Signs
Generally, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis first appear between the ages of 20 and 40. After age 50, the risk of developing MS declines. Multiple sclerosis is twice as likely to occur in women then it is in men.
The onset of MS may be dramatic, or it may be so mild that a person doesn't even notice any symptoms until the disease has done considerable damage. Often the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis are attributed to another disorder.
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose multiple sclerosis. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is a good idea to see your doctor. Heredity is a key risk factor, so let your doctor know if there is any history of MS in your family.
Most Common Early Symptoms
Less Common Symptoms
As the disease progresses, other symptoms may include muscle spasms, sensitivity to heat, fatigue, changes in thinking or perception and sexual disturbances. MS gets worse over time, but the prognosis for multiple sclerosis varies from patient to patient, depending on how the condition responds to treatments.