Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease with demyelination of axons within the central nervous system. It is considered to be an immune mediated inflammatory disease that tends to progress over the years. The general histological features are multiple disseminated plaques in the human body system.
Though the specific cause of multiple sclerosis has not been determined yet, evidence implicates certain viruses in the initiation of the disease. It is thus a multi factorial trigger disease that includes environmental agents, certain infections to genetic predisposition as the causes.
Women seem to be at a greater risk of suffering from multiple sclerosis which is known by two other names of Disseminated Sclerosis or Encephalomyelitis disseminata and has the ability to cause many disabilities. There are in total four patterns in which multiple sclerosis progresses and a majority of patients have the relapsing and remitting form.
Signs & Symptoms Of Multiple Sclerosis
The symptoms multiple sclerosis gives rise to vary from person to person in terms of incidence, progression and severity. The most commonly seen symptoms have been discussed below.
Feeling of numbness can be the very first sensory symptom that patient experiences and report to the physician leading to its diagnosis. Numbness sensation can involve any part of the body from the face to any of the extremities such as the mouth, trunk, arms, legs or the reproductive organs too. The duration for which this particular symptom lasts is highly varied and can stay from a few minutes to an hour and sometimes more.
This sometimes impairs the ability to perform normal functions such as walking or driving and also puts them at an increased risk of incurring injury.
An abnormal tingling sensation is another frequently observed symptom in patients with multiple sclerosis. Owing to the damaged myelin sheath, many complain of altered sensations described as either burning, itchy, buzzing or tearing.
Over sixty percent of individuals with multiple sclerosis have vision related problems such as blurring or one sided vision loss. The loss of vision may continue for several days with partial recovery in a month’s time. Patients can also experience double vision also known as diplopia or suffer from colour blindness due to cranial nerve damage.
In patients with unilateral optic neuritis, pain in the eyes which increases whilst moving the eye and involuntary eye movement, usually from one side to the other, can be seen. Such movements are known as Nystagmus.
Muscular In Co-ordination
Muscular weakness or Ataxia and muscular spasticity are other commonly noted symptoms among such patients. This has a definite effect on the maintenance of body balance which makes movement of the body difficult and unstable. A few patients also report frequent shaking of their limbs which is known as tremor. Feeling of dizziness is commonly experienced by such patients.
The patients suffering from multiple sclerosis often report difficulty in emptying the urinary bladder as well as significant increase in the frequency of urination. Some experience urinary incontinence which is an uncontrollable urge to urinate. This can also lead to unintentional passing of urine as they fail to control the urge.
Constipation and sometimes bowel incontinence cause a great deal of inconvenience and discomfort to those afflicted with multiple sclerosis.
Weakness Of Extremities
Mono or paraparesis, commonly termed as Weakness of extremities, such as that of legs is a prominent and relatively fluctuating symptom. Such individuals find it tough to form a grip while picking up objects.
In almost half of all the cases of multiple sclerosis, acute neuropathic pain caused by fiber damage in the spinal cord or brain is seen. High intensity of stabbing pain with dysesthesia (burning sensation) is experienced. Muscle spasticity in such patients leads to simultaneous contraction and relaxation of the opposing muscles instead of being alternate. This is one of the reasons why patients feel painful spasms in the muscles.
Multiple sclerosis causes dysarthria or difficulty in pronouncing words and an imperfect speech articulation. Weakness of jaws and muscles of the face occur in some patients causing staccato type of verbal communication and makes eating food difficult too.
Psychological dysfunctions like inability to concentrate think and plan has been observed in most of the patients with multiple sclerosis. They feel difficulty in understanding things, choosing proper words to express their thoughts or feelings. Even paying undivided attention and to concentrate seems impossible. Likewise, many lose their reasoning power as well as find it tough to learn and retain new things. However, long term memory usually remains unaffected.
The mental health of the patient does undergo a few changes, of which depression and anxiety is commonly experienced.
Some of the symptoms related to episodes of major depression include disturbances in sleeping such as insomnia or over sleeping, irritability, having feelings of dejection and guilt. The patient loses interest in the activities of interest and some even have thoughts related to suicide and death.
It has been noticed that those with multiple sclerosis experience recurring episodes of cluster or migraine type of headaches along with increased sensitivity towards light or sound. Such headaches can affect either one or both sides of the head and the pain can be best described as throbbing.
Multiple sclerosis also causes mood swings in many patients like losing temper, laughing, sudden shouting or bursting into tears without any apparent reason.
Sexual Intimacy Related Symptoms
Men and women with multiple sclerosis face a few sexual problems. In the case of men, erectile dysfunction, ejaculation related difficulty (delayed or complete loss), lowered interest in sex along with easy fatigue are commonly encountered symptoms. Even women suffering from multiple sclerosis experience altered sexual response that covers lack of interest in sex, dryness of vagina as well as orgasm related troubles.
Seizure is one of the rare symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Even in cases where seizures occur, the intensity is mild and do not cause any permanent damage or change.
This is an uncommon symptom caused by multiple sclerosis owing to damage caused to the nerves that control the chest muscles. In cases where difficulty in breathing is experienced, chances of incurring aspiration pneumonia are slightly higher.
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