What are the Symptoms of MS?
Commonly seen symptoms include:
- visual disorders
- bladder and bowel dysfunction
- impaired mobility
- sexual dysfunction
- slurred speech
- spasticity (leg stiffness)
- swallowing disorders
- chronic aching pain
- mild cognitive and memory
While MS has the potential to cause
several different symptoms, the specific symptoms each person
experiences vary greatly. When experiencing one or more of these
symptoms, an individual should consult his or her physician.
Medications are available to treat many MS symptoms. These may
include over-the-counter drugs as well as prescribed
medications. Diet and exercise may also be helpful with managing
certain symptoms. All treatments or changes in diet or exercise
should only be done under the guidance of a qualified physician.
MS symptoms are often compounded by
extreme fatigue, which may be worse in the afternoon, sometimes
relating to a rise in body temperature. Some symptoms may be
temporarily increased by heat intolerance - a classic MS
tendency, where a rise in temperature (internally or externally)
causes a person to feel much worse. Keeping cool through
air-conditioning or various cooling devices (such as those
offered by MSAA's Cooling Equipment Distribution Program), may
be helpful for people with heat-sensitive MS.
When recovering from a symptom flare-up
or learning to cope with a change in mobility, rehabilitation
through physical therapy and occupational therapy can be of
great value. Speech therapy, therapeutic exercise, and certain
medical devices may also be useful in dealing with the symptoms
of MS. Some of those who have a physically demanding or highly
stressful job may choose to make a career change, in which case
vocational training is helpful.
When a family member is diagnosed with
MS, participating in some type of counseling program is often of
benefit to everyone involved. Individuals may be affected in
different ways, both physically and emotionally. Seeking
professional assistance helps to ensure that MS does not disrupt
one's family and happiness.
For more information on symptom
management and handling the challenges of MS, MSAA offers
several helpful publications, as well as an extensive collection
of MS-related books from MSAA's Lending Library. Additionally,
MSAA's staff of qualified Helpline consultants is available to
discuss a caller's needs and questions personally. To contact
MSAA, interested individuals may call (800) 532-7667.