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What are the Symptoms of MS?


Commonly seen symptoms include:


  • fatigue
  • visual disorders
  • numbness
  • dizziness/vertigo
  • bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • weakness
  • tremor
  • impaired mobility
  • sexual dysfunction
  • slurred speech
  • spasticity (leg stiffness)
  • swallowing disorders
  • chronic aching pain
  • depression
  • mild cognitive and memory difficulties


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.










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