“I think I have MS but no one believes me,” this is what you might have heard from a patient of multiple sclerosis before a confirmed diagnosis. Living with a complex neurodegenerative condition such as MS isn’t easy.
With a huge population of the world struggling against this unpredictable disease, there is nearly zero acceptance for patients from their loved ones.
MS is a strange neurological problem in which the patient suffers from anxiety, severe mood swings, extreme fatigue, and much more. In fact, there are some invisible symptoms that might not appear until they flare up.
This chronic illness eats the patient from the inside yet you can’t tell if the person is suffering from MS or not.
Firstly, I’ll share with you what MS exactly is and what to do if you’re diagnosed with this degenerative disorder. Moreover, you’ll also get to know about the hidden symptoms of MS in this write-up.
Table of Content
What is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis a.k.a MS is a chronic neurological autoimmune disorder. In this disease, your body’s own cells start attacking the protective covering (myelin sheath) of the cells of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
Myelin sheath helps in easy and faster transmission of messages from the brain to the body. When demyelination is initiated, the nerve fibers become exposed to the external environment.
Hence, degeneration of myelin disturbs the transportation of signals across the body which causes a loss of sensation in several parts of the body.
Types of MS
According to the most recent research, there are three main types of MS. Every person suffering from MS experiences different types of symptoms based on the specific stage of the disease. However, damage to the nerve fibers remains constant. These types/stages are:
Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS)
CIS is a condition in which the patient suffers from similar symptoms as that of MS but both the diseases differ in durations. CIS occurs once in life whereas multiple sclerosis is a lifelong disease. However, in some cases, CIS can be the gateway of MS.
You might feel that you’ve CIS until you experience a second attack of the same symptoms and the MRI shows progressing MS.
Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
Nearly 85% of the patients with MS have relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. As the name suggests, in this condition, one might experience an exacerbation of the symptoms called relapses, and then its recovery called remissions.
Secondary Progressive MS (SPMS)
Following the relapsing-remitting MS, patients often go through secondary progressive MS. The patients might experience the worst symptoms such as bowel problems, stiffened muscles, weakness, depression, and fatigue.
Primary Progressive MS (PPMS)
Nearly 10% of the patients going through MS experience PPMS. In this condition, there is a progressive worsening of the symptoms. Usually, people after 40 years of age are diagnosed with this type of MS.
Hidden Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
A majority of the people before being diagnosed with MS, first experience the clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). However, the onset of CIS leads to monofocal or multifocal episodes of symptoms and lasts no longer than one day.
Some patients often ask, “can MS symptoms come and go hourly?” Well, yes, MS symptoms can come and go even within a few minutes. Such symptoms are called paroxysmal symptoms. The symptoms vary from patient to patient but the following are some common and basic signs a person with MS might experience,
- Tingling and numbness in the fingers
- Mental health problems such as anxiety
- Optic nerve damage can cause vision problems
- Sexual problems
- Chronic muscular pain and spasms
- Loss of coordination and balance problems
- Mood swings
- Changes in speech
There are some invisible and hidden symptoms of MS such as heat sensitivity, bowel problems, eyesight issues, dysfunctional bladder, and other cognitive problems. All of the MS patients experience tingling in the fingers but there is a difference between anxiety tingling and MS tingling.
Some people experience all the symptoms of MS but no lesions, in that case, the doctors must look for other possible diagnoses. Moreover, it is also possible for a person to have MS and still have a normal MRI. If there are no lesions in the brain, the doctors might find some in the spinal cord.
I Think I Have MS But No One Believes Me
Initially, people with MS often get misdiagnosed because of the similarity of symptoms of MS with other diseases. Moreover, when it comes to MS, there are lots of misconceptions. People often think that MS is an elderly disease that only affects older people. However, the onset of symptoms usually occurs at 20 years of age.
The symptoms of MS change with respect to the stages. One of the most common complications of MS is pseudobulbar affect (PBA). It is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent switching of unmanageable laughing or crying.
An MS patient can experience extreme happiness at a moment followed by extreme sadness the very next moment. Hence, mood swings, anxiety, and mental health disorders are common among patients with MS.
I think I have MS but no one believes me – patients with MS need a lot of support from their loved ones during their tough times. If you’re the one going through it, then talking to your go-to person can be the best therapy!
Even if it is a cureless disease that does not mean its symptoms can’t be managed. Some lifestyle changes and several medications can help you improve the signs and symptoms.
Experiencing MS Symptoms: What to Do Next?
Although some MS symptoms are hard to diagnose and are similar to other disorders, but an onset of so many symptoms should click your mind. An early response to the symptoms can help you save yourself from the progression of multiple sclerosis. It would be better if you try to keep a check on your condition once you’re diagnosed with MS.
The most important thing an MS patient needs is “Mental Support.” MS patients experience severe anxiety and mental health issues which make them mentally and physically disturbed. So, as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed, it’s better for you to share it all with someone you’re close to.
If you have people in your life who don’t believe you, then try to refrain from them. Avoid all the negativity in your life and stick to those who trust you. A true friend is the one who always stays around in the bad times. So, avoid all the negativity and stay optimistic to improve your mental health.
Multiple Sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes degeneration of myelin sheath leading to physical and neurological problems. This disease exhibits wide-ranging symptoms and this trait makes it a big challenge to diagnose it. Many people experience paroxysmal attacks in multiple sclerosis and as the disease progresses the symptoms mostly worsen.
I think I have MS but no one believes me, if you have MS and nobody believes you then it’s better to refrain from such people. Try to surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude towards you. This will help you a lot in improving your mental health.
If you think you have MS, then first of all you should consult a doctor and get it confirmed. This is because the symptoms of MS match with many other neurological disorders. Once it is confirmed, follow the guidelines of your doctor.
Although it is a cureless disease, but there are many ways to manage MS. So, stay away from all the pessimistic thoughts and believe in yourself!
What are usually the first signs of MS?
Initially, the multiple sclerosis symptoms in females and males are somewhat similar. The signs of MS include numbness of fingers, extreme fatigue, eyesight problems due to the damage to the optic nerve, sexual issues, body imbalance, and memory loss including several other cognitive problems. However, the signs and symptoms of MS vary from patient to patient and depend upon the type of MS one has.
How do you know if your MS is progressing?
Initially after diagnosis, one might experience less frequent relapses or longer intervals between the relapses with fast recovery. However, as soon as MS progresses, the patient might experience more frequent relapses with the worsening of the symptoms. The signs of a progressing MS include exhaustion, mood swings, severe disability, weakness, and frequent flare-ups.
How to prevent multiple sclerosis?
Those who have either their parents or siblings suffering from MS are at higher risk of developing MS. However, there are a few ways to prevent multiple sclerosis. One should quit smoking, consume a healthy diet, perform aerobic exercises, and maintain the required level of vitamin D in the body.
How long can you live with multiple sclerosis?
As MS is an autoimmune and neurodegenerative disease, most of the patients wonder if they would be able to survive through it. Well, there would be no lie in saying that patients with MS can have a reduced lifespan. The proportion of suicidal deaths among people with MS is also higher than normal individuals.
Can you have a clear MRI and still have MS?
Yes! This might sound strange but you can have a clear MRI and still have MS. Usually, the patients with MS have lesions in their brain and spinal cord which appear in an MRI. Hence, MRI is the primary source of diagnosing MS but in rare cases, patients exhibit completely normal MRI. However, some patients might not have lesions in the brain but can have them in the spinal cord.