It’s MS Awareness Week! Did you know that in the UK, it is estimated that there are over 100,000 people who have multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system. In MS, the coating around nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms. More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS.
Symptoms usually start in your 20s and 30s and it affects almost three times as many women as men.
Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms.
MS is complex, and has many symptoms. Most people won’t experience them all, and certainly not at the same time.
Physical symptoms of MS might commonly include vision problems, balance problems and dizziness, fatigue, bladder problems and stiffness and/or spasms.
MS can also affect memory and thinking, and have an impact on emotions.
Like all MS symptoms, you might experience this in varying degrees, or not at all.
Early signs of MS
There is no definitive list of early signs. What could be a first symptom for one person may never be experienced by another. People can have different symptoms at different times and, although some are very common, there is no typical pattern that applies to everyone.
A problem with vision – known as optic neuritis – is one of the more obvious early symptoms, but this is often because this is a more ‘concrete’ symptom as opposed to ‘vague’ neurological symptoms like numbness or tingling. You shouldn’t assume that these symptoms are a sign of MS – not everyone who experiences them will go on to get an MS diagnosis.
Are my symptoms MS?
If you have searched for symptoms online, or you know someone with MS, it may be uppermost in your mind. But many symptoms of MS can also be symptoms of other conditions or ailments. Only a neurologist can diagnose MS. If your GP thinks your symptoms need further investigation, they will refer you to a specialist. It’s best to make an appointment with your GP about any symptom that worries you. Learn more about MS here: Multiple Sclerosis Society; MS Trust