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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) FAQs (cont.)

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) that appear depend on which part of the central nervous system is affected and what the job of the damaged nerve is. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Symptoms include the following:

  • Visual changes, including blurred, patchy or hazy vision, and loss of color perception, which may be accompanied by eye pain (Double vision may occur if the nerve pathways in charge of eye movements are affected.)
  • Fatigue, tiredness, and lack of energy
  • Numbness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Dizziness, imbalance, incoordination, and vertigo
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Facial pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty with walking and fine motor skills
  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss

People with MS may have worsening of symptoms after taking a hot shower or bath, or being outside in hot weather for prolonged periods.

Symptoms that appear for days or weeks then disappear may be an early indication of MS.

Symptoms can come and go, appear in various combinations, and be mild to severe at different times.

Times when MS symptoms are active are called attacks or relapses. Times when symptoms are not present are called remissions. Most people with MS have days or weeks of relapses followed by months or years of remissions.

Can Multiple Sclerosis Be Cured?

Multiple Sclerosis cannot be cured, but people with MS can be treated with medications that are preventive, that speed recovery, or that relieve the symptoms.

  • Several medications, known as immunomodulatory drugs, have been shown to be effective in decreasing the frequency of new MS lesions and the number of new attacks. In addition, the various symptoms that accompany MS can be managed. For information on medications for MS, see Understanding Multiple Sclerosis Medications.
  • Also helpful in the treatment of people with MS are physical therapy, rehabilitation, and exercise; attention to diet; and other health and lifestyle adjustments.
  • Research into a cure for MS is ongoing.
  • Scientists are researching agents that may stop the immune attack that destroys myelin or agents that may stimulate new myelin production.
  • Researchers are studying agents that may halt the progression of MS.
  • Researchers are starting to identify the components of the immune system that are necessary to orchestrate an attack against the central nervous system. These components include not only the different types of immune cells but also the molecules that facilitate their entry into the nervous system and the factors they secrete. Once the relative role of these components is understood, more specific medications for MS may be developed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/22/2016
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