MS symptoms are variable and unpredictable, they can change or fluctuate over time. The more common symptoms are discussed here with links to further reading, though not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. Many symptoms of MS can be treated or managed, usually by a local MS specialist team.
MS Research is constantly looking for new and better ways to treat symptoms that are harder to manage. It is also important to note that not all new changes will be a result of MS and should be addressed by other specialists.
Numbness, tingling and other odd sensations
Numbness of the face, body, or extremities (arms and legs) can be a first symptom experienced by those eventually diagnosed as having MS. Numbness and tingling indicate damage to pathways carrying information to the brain. Some people experience an occasional feeling often described as an 'electric shock' along the spine. Itching is part of the family of abnormal sensations such as 'pins and needles', burning and stabbing which may be experienced by people with MS.
Visual problems can be an early sign of MS usually described as blurred or patchy vision. Other symptoms may include pain on eye movement, poor contrast or affected colour vision. Any visual issues should be assessed promptly.
Dizziness and Vertigo
Many people with MS experience bladder dysfunction. This can either be feeling the need to urinate frequently or urgency needing to get to the toilet. These symptoms can usually be managed quite successfully with medication, bladder training and attention to fluid intake. A different bladder problem may be finding it difficult to pass urine with interrupted urine flow. This should be reported to your doctor.
Speech and Swallowing Problems
Speech problems, including slurring (dysarthria) and loss of volume (dysphonia) can occur in people with MS, this problem can be exacerbated during periods of extreme fatigue. Swallowing problems (dysphagia) result from damage to the nerves controlling the many small muscles in the mouth and throat. This can be addressed by advice from a dietician on food preparation.
Breathing problems are unusual in early MS but can occur as a result of some medications. More generally people may find that existing respiration problems can improve through some of the new MS drugs.