Symptoms of MS can look like other disorders

Before you start worrying that you might have multiple sclerosis (MS), read up on how common it is, who gets it and what to do if you think you have MS.

Do I have multiple sclerosis (MS)? If you were wondering about a handful of symptoms and began searching the internet, and now you’re convinced you have MS, take a breath. The symptoms of MS look like many other conditions, and the truth is, most people do not have MS.

Signs of MS

“MS mimics many other less serious conditions,” said Jocelyn H. McGuire, APRN, nurse practitioner with Norton Neuroscience Institute. “It’s one of the reasons MS is difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of MS vary from person to person, vary in intensity and make it tricky to diagnose sometimes.”

MS can appear anytime in someone’s life, though it is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Specialists believe symptoms go on for years before they get bad enough for someone to seek and receive a diagnosis.

Symptoms of MS include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue: The most commonly reported and persistent sign of MS is feeling tired without exertion or lack of sleep. 
  • Dysesthesias: This refers to a group of symptoms related to feelings in the body such as numbness, tingling, burning or sensitivity to touch.
  • Tremors: Many MS patients report shaking in the limbs, and sometimes the head. 
  • Vision issues: Eye pain and partial vision loss are common symptoms of MS.

Norton Neuroscience Institute Hussung Family Multiple Sclerosis Center

Recognized as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Risk factors for MS

“We don’t know exactly what causes MS, and anyone can get MS, regardless of age, sex or race,” Jocelyn said. “There are a few possible factors that increase someone’s risk.”

These include:

  • Genetics: While MS is not passed from parents to their biological children, 1 in 5 MS patients have people in their family with MS.
  • Infection history: There is a strong correlation between a history with certain viruses and the onset of MS. For instance, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the cause of mononucleosis (mono). EBV raises your risk for developing MS by more than 30 times.
  • Certain environmental and lifestyle factors: Geography, low vitamin D levels in the body, smoking status and obesity all may contribute to the development of MS.

Getting help for MS

There are many resources to support MS patients and their families in the Louisville area. Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Centers focus on bridging the gap between managing care and improving quality of life. The team at the resource centers provides educational, therapeutic, support and exercise programs, and can assist patients with:

  • Access to medical care
  • Social Security Disability Insurance resources
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Financial challenges
  • Referrals to community resources and home health agencies

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