MULTIPLE sclerosis is disease where patches of inflammation occur in parts of the brain or spinal cord, causing symptoms that can come and go for several years.
It's estimated that some 130,000 people in the UK live with the condition, which is thought to be an autoimmune disease.
According to Patient UK, this means that your immune system attacks your body instead of attacking germs.
So when your MS is active, parts of your immune system attack the myelin sheath which surrounds the nerve fibres in your brain and spinal cord, leading to small patches of inflammation.
This will stop the affected never fibres from working, causing symptoms to appear. Though the inflammation can clear for periods of time, repeated bouts of it can leave a small scar – sclerosis – which can permanently damage nerve fibres.
Someone with MS will typically have multiple small areas of scarring in their brain and spinal cord, according to GPs writing for Patient UK.
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You might typically associate MS with tremors and muscles spasms, but the disease can show itself in a number of ways, including when you go to the toilet.
It's unlikely that you'll experience all of these symptoms if you have MS.
Most people only deal with a few symptoms, but these are unpredictable, according to Patient UK. Symptoms can occur at any time and they might even differ between each relapse.
These can be triggered by anything from infections and exercise to hot weather, Patient UK said.
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Without further ado, here are eight ways in which your MS can present itself:
1. Vision problems
One in four people with MS will get vision problems as they first symptom due to swelling in their optic nerve.
This can cause pain behind your eye and also some loss of your vision, Patient UK said, usually only affecting one eye.
Other eye symptoms may include blurring of your vision or having double vision.
2. Muscles spasms
Damage in the nerves that supply muscles could lead you to suffer from tremors or spasms.
You might also experience spasticity, which is when some muscles contract tightly and become stiff and harder to use.
3. Nerve or muscle pain
People with MS may experience two types of pain: the first is a stabbing, burning sensation over parts of your skin cause by nerve fiber damage – this is called neuropathic pain.
The second is musculoskeletal pain, hitting any of your muscles affected by spasms or spasticity.
Extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of MS, Patient UK wrote.It can even affect your balance and concentration.
5. Numbness or tingling
The most common symptom of a first MS relapse is numbness or tingling in parts of your skin.
6. Weakness of paralysis
You may also experience some weakness or paralysis and your mobility could be affected.
7. Problems peeing
You might have some problems passing pee if you have MS, often because the bladder muscles aren't working in coordination, making pee flow poor and interrupted, according to MS Society.
If your bladder isn’t emptying completely, you may not be able to feel it, it said.
However, if you need to go to the toilet for a second time only a short while later and you’re passing a similar amount of pee, this could be a sign that your bladder isn’t emptying fully.
8. Difficulty speaking
MS can also affect parts of your brain that control the muscles involved in speech- this is called dysarthria.
MS can also affect the messages in the brain that control your voice box and change the sound of your voice.
You might also notice some problems with memory and thinking, according to MS Society.
You might experience some secondary symptoms as your disease develops, when some of these first signs become permanent, Patient notes
What types of MS are there?
There are three main types of MS that a person can develop:
- Relapsing-remitting MS – where people have distinct attacks of symptoms which come and go. Around 85 per cent of people have this type
- Primary progressive MS – this type affects about 10-15 per cent of those diagnosed (generally those diagnosed in their 50s) and it means that the condition continues to get progressively worse
- Secondary progressive MS – neurologists generally agree that this is a "sustained build-up of disability, independent of any relapses" according to MS Society
There is also a condition called Benign MS, but this is only diagnosed if a person thought to have MS has gone 15 years with no symptoms, and has little or no disability as a result of previous attacks.
There is currently no cure for MS, but the symptoms can be treated with medications and other treatments.
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Currently, the typical treatment type depends on the specific symptoms and difficulties faced by the individual affected.
Doctors have revealed a stem cell transplant could be a breakthrough development for those with MS.
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