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5 Signs You May Have Multiple Sclerosis, Like Christina Applegate

Watch out for these presenting symptoms.
Actress Christina Applegate, of Dead to Me, recently announced she has multiple sclerosis. "Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It's been a strange journey," the Anchorman star wrote. "But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It's been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some a–hole blocks it." She continued: "As one of my friends that has MS said 'we wake up and take the indicated action'. And that's what I do. So now I ask for privacy. As I go through this thing. Thank you xo."

As a registered nurse and Director of Multiple Sclerosis Information for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, I wanted to share a few common presenting symptoms of multiple sclerosis. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have MS. A qualified healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, do a thorough exam and run tests to rule out other possible causes. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your primary healthcare provider for next steps. If you don't have a primary care provider, go to an urgent clinic or emergency room. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Vision Problems

Blurred and double vision while driving

Optic neuritis— inflammation of the optic (vision) nerve—usually occurs in one eye and may cause aching pain with eye movement, blurred vision, dim vision, or loss of color vision. You may lose vision completely in the affected eye or have a blurred or dim spot (scotoma) in the center of your field of vision. Optic neuritis can be frightening but, in most cases, vision returns. 

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Pain in the foot of the elderly

Or a loss or decreased sensation—of the face, body or extremities. You may notice that you have less feeling when touching something with your hand or notice the sensation in one leg is different than the other. You may feel the sensation of your arm or leg being "asleep" with a pins and needles (tingling) sensation. The numbness may be mild or so severe that it interferes with your ability to function. For example, if you have very numb feet you may have difficulty walking. Numb hands may make texting, dressing, or even holding objects challenging.

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Trouble Walking

Man tired after excercise.

…can be caused by poor balance, decreased or lost sensation, tight muscles, weakness and fatigue. Problems with walking can be dangerous and lead to falls. Even if the problems are subtle, it's best to get checked right away to prevent injuries from falls and promote recovery.  

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Woman experiencing a bad headache

One of the most common symptoms of MS, but also common in other health conditions and everyday life. MS fatigue is more severe and different from other types of fatigue in that it occurs on a daily basis, can occur early in the morning (even with a good night of rest), worsens as the day progresses, is aggravated by heat and humidity and interferes with daily responsibilities.   

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Cognitive Issues

Mature man with bad headache at home

Changes in thinking are common in MS and can be a first symptom. These changes could be to how well you process or take in new information, your memory, your ability to concentrate and pay attention, your planning and prioritizing and your ability to easily find the words you're looking for. For most, the changes are mild and can be hard to detect yourself. Pay attention to loved ones who might be trying to tell you that they notice a change in your thinking. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Julie Fiol, MSW, BSN, RN, MSCN
Julie Fiol is an RN and Director of MS Information for the National MS Society. Read more about Julie
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