Know the symptoms of multiple sclerosis

The symptoms of MS vary depending on the areas of the central nervous system where lesions have occurred. Additionally, they may increase or decrease in severity and duration depending on the progression of the disease.

Each person’s symptoms are unique, meaning that one person may experience one or several symptoms, although it does not imply that all or none of them have to manifest. If no symptoms appear, it does not mean that the disease is not active and progressing, as neurological damage can still occur.

For this reason, it is essential to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan once a year to assess the progression of the disease. The manifestations of MS often occur in flare-ups, known as the appearance of new symptoms or the worsening of existing ones for more than 24 hours, which must be separated by at least 30 days from the previous symptom. Flare-ups differ from pseudo-flare-ups in that the latter involve the worsening of an existing symptom due to its association with heat, fever, or infection; when the triggering factor is corrected, the patient returns to their previous state.

The most common symptoms of MS are:

  • Fatigue, Visual disturbances: double vision, optic neuritis, or presence of rapid or involuntary eye movements.
  • Motor and balance problems: loss of balance, difficulty walking normally, tremors, lack of coordination in movements (ataxia), dizziness, and weakness affecting gait.
  • Spasticity and spasms: stiffness, heaviness, involuntary muscle contractions, and spasms.
  • Speech disorders: difficulty maintaining a conversation, changes in speech rhythm, dysarthria, and aphasia.
  • Bladder problems: bladder infections and urgent, frequent urination. Intestinal problems: constipation and lack of sphincter control.
  • Sensory disturbances: tingling, numbness, or burning sensation, muscle pain, and sensitivity to heat. When the temperature increases, patients will experience worsening of their symptoms.
  • Sexual problems. Cognitive disorders: short-term memory problems, difficulty processing information, problem-solving, finding the right words, and deficits in attention and concentration. Emotional disorders: anxiety and depression.