Multiple Sclerosis: Signs, symptoms and diagnosis

MS Awareness Week takes place from 25 April to 1 May and is a chance to raise awareness of the uncertainty that surrounds Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

MS is a neurological condition that occurs when the immune system attacks the nervous system by mistake.

It means that everyone with MS has a different experience of the condition due to the nervous system controlling all aspects of the body.

There are three types of MS: relapsing MS, secondary progressive MS and primary progressive MS. Despite this, two people with the same type of MS may have completely different symptoms.

What are the symptoms of MS?
Although people living with MS have different experiences, common symptoms include fatigue, pain, eye problems and numbness.
Some symptoms are visible such as loss of balance, tremors and speech problems. Other symptoms may be unseen and could include bladder and bowel problems, difficulty swallowing and memory issues.

How is MS diagnosed?
The early signs of MS can be different for everyone, so it is hard to identify when it begins. If you or a loved one are worried about MS, contact your GP.

MS is diagnosed by a neurologist and they will carry out tests to run as they run through a checklist, which is known as the McDonald criteria.

Tests to diagnose MS include a neurological examination, an MRI scan, evoked potential tests and blood tests.

A neurological examination involves questions on your health problems and symptoms, along with a physical examination.

An MRI scan provides a detailed image of your brain and spinal cord and can locate any inflammation and is one of the most accurate ways of getting a diagnosis.

An evoked potentials test uses small electrodes to measure the time it takes for your brain to receive messages from parts of your body.

Meanwhile, a blood test can be used to rule out other conditions.

According to the MS Society, around 1 in 500 people in the UK has MS, with around 100 diagnosed each week.

If you or a loved one are living with MS and need help, get in touch with our team today.

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