Health Library

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS symptoms range from mild to severe. It depends on what part of the brain, spine, or nerves in the eyes have been affected. Problems may last for a few days or be long lasting. They may also get better and then come back months to years after they start. Some people may have problems that get better and then have lasting harm that is found during an exam.

Central Nervous System
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Common problems are:

  • Numbness or tingling in the legs, arms, or face
  • Problems seeing in one or both eyes:
    • Blurred eyesight
    • Seeing double
    • Loss of sight
    • Changes in how a person sees colors
    • Eye pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination or falling
  • Trouble walking or with balance
  • Not being able to move one or more limbs
  • Bladder problems:
    • Urgency
    • Hesitancy
    • Incomplete emptying
    • Incontinence
  • Constipation or, less commonly, incontinence
  • Sexual problems
  • Memory problems and confusion
  • Problems with focus or solving problems
  • Depression

Less common problems are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Problems swallowing
  • Mental health problems
  • An overly excited mood or emotions that do not match a situation
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Tremor
  • Breathing problems
  • Itching

Things that may trigger or worsen symptoms are:

  • Internal or external heat:
    • Hot weather
    • Hot baths or showers
    • Fever
  • Too much exercise or movement
  • Infection

References

Multiple sclerosis (MS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/multiple-sclerosis-ms. Accessed March 16, 2022.

NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Multiple-Sclerosis-Information-Page. Accessed March 16, 2022.

What is MS? National Multiple Sclerosis Society website. Available at: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed March 16, 2022.