What are symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Because we depend on our nervous system for many things, having our nervous system malfunction because of multiple sclerosis (MS) can lead to a wide array of symptoms, which include:
  • Numbness or weakness in one or more of your limbs
  • Loss of vision
  • Having double vision or blurry vision
  • Feeling tingling or pain in one or more parts of your body
  • Feeling electric-shock sensations when you move your head in certain ways
  • Feeling unsteady or losing coordination while walking or standing
  • Having stiff muscles or muscle spasms
  • Extreme fatigue or dizziness
These symptoms come and go and tend to be triggered by stress or an increase in body temperature. Because people with MS experience so many different types of symptoms, it makes it very hard to diagnose. Doctors may mistake the symptoms of MS for other diseases, and because there is no definitive test for MS, it very hard to confirm that someone who may present with MS symptoms actually has MS.

Sometimes, the symptoms become very serious. Some may experience paralysis in the legs. Some may become incontinent, while others experience depression or difficulty concentrating. Some are also at higher risk of epilepsy.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and the spinal cord. Everyone who is diagnosed with MS experiences the disease in their own way. Symptoms vary from person to person and even from day to day in each individual. The most common symptoms of MS include:
  • Fatigue.
  • Numbness or tingling, particularly in the extremities.
  • Visual loss or double vision.
  • Difficulty with mobility due to muscle weakness or stiffness.
  • Bladder and bowel problems.
  • Impaired balance and coordination.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing.
  • Cognitive and emotional changes.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis may be mild or severe and can occur in varying degrees of intensity. Relapses or the exacerbation of symptoms can last for days or weeks and then resolve. Over time, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis can also become chronic and longstanding.

The initial symptom of multiple sclerosis is often blurred or double vision, loss of color vision, or even blindness in one eye. Individuals with multiple sclerosis may experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. Some might experience numbness or "pins and needles." Others may have pain or loss of feeling. Heat may cause a temporary worsening of many symptoms.

Multiple sclerosis can cause cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, memory, and judgment. Such impairments are usually mild and rarely disabling. Intellectual and language abilities are generally spared.

Bladder problems or urinary dysfunction are common with multiple sclerosis, although they may not affect everyone with the disease. For those who do experience urinary problems, symptoms vary from person to person and must be dealt with on an individual basis. Symptoms are often manageable, so be sure to tell your doctor as soon as you experience any problems.

Possible symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis include:
1.  Loss of vision or double vision
2.  Muscle weakness or spasms
3.  Numbness or tingling of an arm or leg or one half of the body
4.  Electrical shock like sensations
5.  Unsteadiness when walking
6.  Loss of urinary control
7.  Sexual Dysfunction
8.  Fatigue
9.  Difficulty concentrating
10.  Depression
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
The initial symptom of MS is often blurred or double vision, red-green color distortion, or even blindness in one eye. Most MS patients experience muscle weakness in their extremities and difficulty with coordination and balance. These symptoms may be severe enough to impair walking or even standing. In the worst cases, MS can produce partial or complete paralysis. Most people with MS also exhibit paresthesias, transitory abnormal sensory feelings such as numbness, prickling, or "pins and needles" sensations. Some may also experience pain. Speech impediments, tremors, and dizziness are other frequent complaints. Occasionally, people with MS have hearing loss. Approximately half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments such as difficulties with concentration, attention, memory, and poor judgment, but such symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked. Depression is another common feature of MS.

Multiple sclerosis leaves your nerves at risk when their protective layer of fatty myelin is damaged. This can happen anywhere throughout the nervous system, which means the symptoms will vary depending on where your system is damaged. Common symptoms include tiredness; problems with coordination or balance; vision problems; cognitive issues; numbness, prickling or dizziness, altered mood; or bladder, bowel or sexual dysfunction. Less common symptoms associated with more severe cases could include itching, headaches, respiratory issues, trouble swallowing, shakiness, seizures, paralysis or the loss of speech or hearing.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) include sudden transient motor and sensory disturbances, such as blurred vision, dizziness, muscle weakness, and tingling sensations. Generally, only one or two symptoms present initially. As the disease progresses, the initial symptoms worsen and other symptoms can develop. The diagnosis is confirmed by the detection of evidence of demyelination on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

More About this Book

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

From the bestselling authors of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the most comprehensive and practical guide available to the nutritional benefits and medicinal properties of virtually everything...

Continue Learning about Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.