Multiple Sclerosis 到底有哪些症狀?
Before I knew anything about the disease, when I heard "Multiple Sclerosis," I thought of the Jerry Lewis kids in wheelchairs. No, that's Muscular Dystrophy, but I didn't know.
Then, as a journalist, when I covered the Multiple Sclerosis celebrity events with movie stars, Dustin Hoffman introduced me to his mother-in-law, and organizers told me they had the disease, and I kept repeating, "Gee, you look great."
I didn't know what the face of MS was. Little did I know, I would soon be diagnosed with it.
For years, I went to neurologists and specialists for what I thought was carpal tunnel syndrome. I went to allergists for persistent headaches, optometrists for fuzzy peripheral vision and an acupuncturist for the persistent numbness in my right side.
It wasn't until I broke my right foot while walking the dogs in the Hollywood Hills and walked on it for half a week after breaking it in three places, and finally a doctor said I shouldn't have been able to walk on it. I was sent to a special neurologist, who I trust to this day—and then, after getting a second opinion from the world's leading experts at UCLA, I was confirmed as having Multiple Sclerosis.
The diagnosis itself is a difficult process, and I'll talk about that in a different column, but for now, let's talk about the possible symptoms.
Because MS is so different for everyone, and because it affects every patient differently, not all these symptoms are found in everyone who has it.
Symptoms generally appear between the ages of 20 and 40, and it's usually mild.
Here are key symptoms of the disease:
* General fatigue
* Muscle spasms
* Sensitivity to heat
* Loss of balance
* Weakness in one or more limbs
* Blurred or double vision
Less common symptoms of MS may include:
* Slurred speech
* Sudden onset of paralysis
* Lack of coordination
* Cognitive difficulties
* Bladder trouble
* Bowel control issues
* Sexual dysfunction
* Swallowing and speech difficulty
* Breathing trouble
* Coordination problems
* Eye pain
* Emotional mood swings
* Hearing loss
For me, as I near the 10th anniversary of my diagnosis, my symptoms have included frequent urination, balance problems, irritating itching, constant numbness on my right side, noticeable stuttering, mental dullness, overwhelming drowsiness, muscle weakness and overall persistent pain. Fatigue is common in 80 percent of people with MS, so that's no surprise.
Right now, I have to be careful walking up or down stairs, holding the handrail to keep my balance. I have lost my vision in my right eye once, for a few days, which struck while on a Los Angeles freeway, and in a panic called my neurologist who knocked it out with an intense steroid shot.
Impaired thinking is what bothers me most about the illness. Every time I think I have a memory lapse, I blame it on the illness, but I'm constantly reminded that as we get older, that's a common issue. Problems with thinking occur in about half of people with MS. For most, this means slowed thinking, decreased concentration or decreased memory.
Another common complaint is unspecific aches and pains and abnormal sensations such as "pins and needles," burning, stabbing or tearing pains.
This is all due to the body attacking the myelin around the nerves of the body. It blocks the transmission of electrical signals to muscles (to allow them to move appropriately) and the organs of the body (allowing them to perform normal functions.)
Bottom line: A lot of people are misdiagnosed, or never diagnosed with MS, but have these symptoms. They are told they have the flu, or Crohn's disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, or chronic fatigue. Go get diagnosed, (we'll talk about the difficulty of doing that in a later column) and don't be afraid to suggest to your doctor that you may have MS.