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3 Early Symptoms That Might Be Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple sclerosis is a serious and often debilitating illness. My mother was diagnosed with MS in the early 2000s, and it has deeply impacted her life. She often finds that she has to sleep for extended periods of time, and jokes that MS stands for “Must Sleep.” She also cannot tolerate heat and experiences extreme dizziness. Some days are better than others for her, which can be frustrating in and of itself. She often is sad that she isn’t able to do all of the things that she once was able to, and not knowing how she is going to feel from day to day is a challenge. However, her multiple sclerosis was caught early thanks to some warning sign symptoms that she experienced.

Catching multiple sclerosis early is important for so many reasons, including the ability to engage in treatment to slow the illness’s progression. Unfortunately, catching multiple sclerosis early is not always possible, but there are symptoms that you can be on the lookout for to stay on top of your health. There is information online about the various early symptoms that have been detected in individuals with multiple sclerosis, and I urge you to educate yourself so that you can help yourself, as well as the health of your loved ones. Knowledge is key. The following are the main three early warning symptoms that my mother experienced that allowed her to be able to seek help and begin treatment early.

1) The Multiple Sclerosis “Hug”

My mother describes the MS “hug” as though someone is pressing down on every area of her body. She began to experience this quite a bit before she was diagnosed, and it caused her a lot of pain and stress. The pressure she felt was incredibly uncomfortable and made it hard for her to function and feel safe in her own body. This symptom also causes her to have trouble being present as she begins to feel out of touch with her surroundings.

2) Dizziness/Balance Issues

Dizziness and balance issues were some of the most noticeable multiple sclerosis symptoms my mother experienced. She said that while she was at work, she would find herself walking down hallways and running into the walls because her balance was so off. She also had issues with dizziness while driving and ended up running into my father’s car when trying to pull out of the driveway. This dizziness would persist for days when her symptoms were high, and she still goes through periods where her balance and dizziness cause her to have days where she needs to just rest and recover.

3) Tingling/Numbness

The third most significant symptom my mother experienced was a sensation of tingling and numbness in her arms and legs. This symptom was persistent, and it was one of the main reasons she sought help. She likens this symptom to feeling as though someone is pricking her, paired with a burning sensation that feels as though her legs are on fire.

While these symptoms aren’t the only early warning signs of multiple sclerosis, they are the symptoms that most bothered my mother and caused her to seek help. Another symptom that she experienced later on was a loss of bladder control, which some people experience early on. Luckily, multiple sclerosis awareness is increasing and the more we share our stories, the more we can increase awareness and ensure that early detection is widespread. I urge you if you have a loved one with multiple sclerosis, or you have MS yourself, to share what your early symptoms were so that we can spread as much information about this illness as possible. Our stories will save lives.

Getty image by Zerbor.

Originally published: October 24, 2021
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