Multiple Sclerosis Warning Signs

Woman with white hair hold the back of her neck

Multiple sclerosis doesn’t appear out of nowhere. In the few years prior to a diagnosis, people tend to have a handful of symptoms that may serve as a warning sign of trouble ahead.

Here’s what happened: a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia set up the largest study of its kind, examining the health records of 14,000 people with multiple sclerosis and comparing them with the medical records of 67,000 people without this disease. In the five years before people developed actual multiple sclerosis symptoms, they were plagued with a few other health problems. In other words, there is now evidence that multiple sclerosis has a “prodromal” phase of precursor symptoms.

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Specifically, MS patients were four times more likely to have a nervous system disorder (such as pain or sleep problems) and 50% more likely to have a visit to a psychiatrist in the half-decade before classic multiple sclerosis symptoms emerged.

Classic MS symptoms include:

  • muscle weakness
  • vision problems
  • difficulty with balance and coordination
  • cognitive impairment. 

Symptoms noticed by people who later developed MS – before they developed MS – included:

  • fibromyalgia
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • migraine headaches
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder.
In other words, these conditions might be a calling card of upcoming MS.

The fact that multiple sclerosis has warning signs before actual disease symptoms emerge makes this disease similar to other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which also have early warning indicators.

This new information could be useful in diagnosing multiple sclerosis even earlier, which offers huge potential benefit since earlier treatment helps slow the brain and spinal cord damage of this disease. The clinical pharmacy team at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy is well-versed in the medications used in a treatment plan for multiple sclerosis and are here and ready to help patients access and stay on-track with their plan of care.

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University of British Columbia. A constellation of symptoms presages first definitive signs of multiple sclerosis: Study is largest-ever effort to identify symptoms that appear before MS diagnosis. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2018.