Nearly 1 million Americans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and central nervous system wherein the immune system attacks the myelin (protective sheath) that covers nerve fibers, causing communication problems between the brain and many other parts of the body. Ultimately, MS can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.
Depending on the location of the affected nerve fibers and the amount of nerve damage, the symptoms of MS vary widely from person to person. Those with severe MS may lose their ability to walk, while others may be able to lead relatively normal lives with long periods of remission without new symptoms. Generally, however, MS symptoms often include:
- Affected movement in the form of numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, tremors, lack of coordination, an unsteady gait, and/or electric-shock sensations that occur with neck movements
- Partial or complete loss of vision, typically in one eye at a time, prolonged double vision, or blurry vision
- Slurred speech, fatigue, dizziness, pain or tingling in various parts of the body, and/or problems with sexual, bowel, or bladder function