Tingling in legs and hands and visual disturbances can be signs of multiple sclerosis (MS). But there are more warning signs of the nerve disease. Read here which symptoms are typical for multiple sclerosis and how the disease progresses.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. More than 200.000 people are affected in Germany. The symptoms that occur can be quite different – depending on which areas are affected by the chronic inflammation. MS is therefore also called the disease of 1.000 faces. The variety of symptoms, some of which are rather non-specific, makes diagnosis difficult. Sometimes it takes several years before it is clear that a patient has MS. The neurologist is responsible.
The cause of MS is still unclear. According to the "Competence Network Multiple Sclerosis" speak however many examined cases for the fact that an autoimmune illness is a trigger for MS. The body's own immune defense cells attack the brain and spinal cord.
Recognize typical symptoms
First symptoms of multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis usually begins with
Sensory disturbances in the arms and legs. If, for example, numb feet or tingling in the hands and legs become noticeable, this can be an initial indication of the onset of the inflammatory nerve disease.
Similarly often occurs at the beginning of multiple sclerosis:
– balance and coordination disorders – swaying gait and stumbling – dizziness – lack of strength – bowel evacuation disorders – signs of paralysis (spasticity) – muscle stiffness
Other signs include
Visual disturbances In the center of the field of vision of one eye, there may be a loss of vision or the view is only clouded, as with a light fog in front of one eye. This is usually caused by an inflammation of the optic nerves (optic neuritis). Double vision is also a symptom. In multiple sclerosis, bladder emptying disorders or slurred speech may also occur.
Experts also speak of so-called "invisible" Symptoms, that can occur. Sensory abilities. pain during sexual intercourse. You can also recognize the nerve disorder by an unnatural hypersensitivity in various parts of the body. Furthermore also severe and persistent fatigue (the so-called Fatigue ) or Depression at.
Is multiple sclerosis hereditary??
In contrast to a classic hereditary disease, which is caused by changes in one or more specific genes of the immune system, multiple sclerosis is a multifactorial disease. They are caused by genetic changes in interaction with environmental influences as well as the lifestyle.
However, in medical practice, about one in five MS sufferers reports having relatives by blood who also had or have multiple sclerosis. The genetic causes are not clearly understood. The relative risk of developing multiple sclerosis is only slightly increased in children of a parent with MS compared to the regional population. Women suffer more frequently from multiple sclerosis. The reason for this is also not yet clear.
Various viruses and bacteria, such as a herpes pathogen, are also suspected to be triggers for the nerve disease.
To clarify the causes of multiple sclerosis, research is being conducted worldwide. There are international MS societies, which support the research work.
(Source: Getty Images/normaals)
Disease progression in multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that usually progresses in relapses. Newly emerging symptoms can also disappear again completely. On the other hand, it is also possible that the symptoms continue to worsen until the inflammatory nerve disease leads to increasing disability.
Possible symptoms of a later stage of MS include:
– Gait disturbances of varying degrees (spasticity) – Complete paralysis of limbs – Bladder emptying disturbances – Increased visual disturbances – Temporary blindness
Cognitive disorders in multiple sclerosis
According to current surveys by the German MS Registry, around 40 percent of people with MS suffer from cognitive impairment. Complaints can occur early in the course of the disease. Also occur in patients without severe physical impairment.
Cognition (Latin cognoscere: to recognize, perceive) includes the abilities to think and feel, such as attention, memory, and judgment. In multiple sclerosis, the cognitive functions/abilities can be impaired by the brain damage. The cognitive changes in patients with MS focus on the following areas:
– cognitive slowing (limitation in speed and information processing) – problems with perception, attention and concentration – impairments of so-called executive functions (for example, limited multitasking, lack of mental flexibility). – Impairments in the areas of calculation, planning, problem solving and judgment
Although cognitive functions are also affected by the disease, most patients tend to be mentally unimpaired for a long time despite severe physical disabilities.
Therapy for multiple sclerosis
MS is not curable. However, through various therapeutic approaches it is possible to improve the quality of life of the affected person and to maintain independence. However, the form of treatment must be adapted and individualized according to the history of the disease, because MS occurs in a wide variety of forms.
Since multiple sclerosis occurs in relapses, there are acute treatments for precisely these relapses. To alleviate the symptoms, cortisone preparations are prescribed to support the immune system.
According to the German Multiple Sclerosis Society (DMSG), the treatment of multiple sclerosis is based primarily on three pillars:
Therapy of the acute relapse (thrust therapy). Acute inflammatory reactions are inhibited by means of cortisone or plasmapheresis (a type of blood washing). – the Course-modifying therapy (basic therapy, long-term immunotherapy). It is intended to prolong the symptom-free/poor period. – the symptomatic therapy, supplemented by Rehabilitation Procedures. The goal is to relieve symptoms and discomfort such as muscle spasms, pain, balsa dysfunction and others.
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The different forms of therapy can also be used in combination and are individually adapted. This depends, among other things, on the age, sex and the individual clinical picture of the respective patient. In addition to drug therapy, MS is also treated with non-drug methods, such as physiotherapy, speech therapy or psychotherapy.
– German Multiple Sclerosis Society (DMSG) – Multiple Sclerosis Competence Network – Deutsches arzteblatt – Own research