What Does a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis Mean?


Quick Answer

A multiple sclerosis diagnosis means the body's immune system is attacking the sheath around the nerves, called the myelin, according to the Mayo Clinic, which gets in the way of communication between the brain and the body. Other than that, a diagnosis of MS have a variety of different meanings, depending on the type of MS and the individual.

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MS can be diagnosed in four different types, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The most common type of MS is relapsing-remitting, in which the patient has bouts of MS between which they are completely or partially normal. Secondary-progressive is the stage of MS that comes after RRMS, during which the disease progresses more steadily. During primary-progressive MS, the patient's symptoms steadily worsen right from the beginning, with rare or no periods of remission. Progressing-relapsing MS sees the patient's condition getting continually worse, with no remission and occasional flare-ups of even worse symptoms.

Symptoms during each type of MS depend on the individual, according to the NMSS. Common symptoms can include fatigue, numbness or tingling, weakness, dizziness, vertigo, walking difficulties, spasticity, vision problems, bladder problems, bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, pain, cognitive and emotional changes, and depression. Less common symptoms include speech or swallowing problems, tremors, abnormal sensations such as pins and needles and itching, headaches, and hearing loss.

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