Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease with many unpredictable symptoms. The type of symptoms and their intensity vary from one person to another. Some people will have only mild symptoms while some may have serious ones including paralysis, vision loss, and diminished brain function. One of the most common risk factors for multiple sclerosis is family history. This progressive disease is so unpredictable that one symptom may be present once, while the other one may appear months later but looks totally unrelated. Understanding the early signs of this condition will help in diagnosing it earlier and treating it soon enough.
Some of the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:
- Vision problems – This is one of the most common early signs of this condition and is known as optic neuritis. The nerve connecting the eyes to the brain is affected and the symptoms may be seen in one of the eyes or in both the eyes in some rare cases. The most commonly affected vision problems are blurry and dull vision, lack of contrast, and pain in the eye. Some people might complain of double vision and involuntary movements of the eye. These symptoms may go off within a few months.
- Tingling and numbness – As the condition affects the central nervous system signal transmission may be affected resulting in numbness. Numbness is often felt in the face, legs, hands and fingers. Chronic pain and involuntary muscle spasms are also common in the early stages of multiple sclerosis.
- Fatigue – As the nerves deteriorate due to the condition, chronic fatigue may set in. About 80% of the people with multiple sclerosis complain of exhaustion or extreme weakness. The person may feel tired while getting up in the morning.
- Problems in mobility – Dizziness and lack of coordination may affect mobility of a person during the early stages of this condition. The person may feel lightheaded or have a feeling of vertigo.
- Dysfunctional bladder – This may affect the frequency of urination, ability to hold back urine, and the need to empty the bladder. In some rare cases, the person may feel constipation or diarrhea.
- Cognitive problems – More than 50% of the people with multiple sclerosis have impaired cognitive function. The person may have memory issues, language problems, lack of concentration, and difficulty in organizing data. Depression and emotional problems may also be seen along with these problems.
Some of the other symptoms include:
- Problems in breathing
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Hearing loss