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The Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

With the news breaking around the further evidence of the link between multiple sclerosis (MS) and the Epstein-Barr virus – the culprit for glandular fever – we decided to delve into some of the key signs of MS. Here are some of the major symptoms of the condition – and what it actually is.

MS is a disease which involves the immune system attacking itself – essentially, it means your body is turning on itself – as it breaks down the protective covering around our nerves. The result is a number of uncomfortable, painful and debilitating symptoms ranging from fatigue to vision loss. While some may live without symptoms for their whole lives, others may suffer from severe pain – the latter often rely on a combination of physiotherapy and medication to manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

The most common type of MS is known as relapsing remitting MS – this affects 85% of those with the condition and is characterised by flare-ups of the neurological symptoms followed by periods of remission. Secondary progressive MS is the second type, and it can develop up to decades after the onset of symptoms and it involves a progressive deterioration of health. The other type is primary progressive MS – it only affects between 10 and 15% of those with MS and is characterised by an early progression of symptoms, without remission periods. Let’s dive into some of the major signs to look out for when it comes to MS.


A whopping 80% of MS sufferers deal with fatigue as a result of their condition, and this can include any of the following:

  • Chronic tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Aching or weak muscles
  • Slow reflexes
  • Poor decision-making skills
  • Low mood

Trouble with walking

MS often involves issues with balance and walking as a result of muscle weakness, tightness, numbness, or a difficulty with muscle coordination – this is called ataxia. Muscle spasticity may also be to blame as it causes involuntary movements and stiffness.

Vision issues

Many people with MS have vision issues – including blindness. But it may also involve optic neuritis, which results in blurry vision, along with diplopia, which involves double vision. Another symptom is nystagmus – the involuntary movement of your eyes.

Slurred speech or other speech issues

Speech is managed by our brains, and MS can cause lesions – damaged areas – in the brain. The result? Changes to our speaking patterns. This can be anything from small changes to issues that render a person unintelligible. Some signs include slurring as a result of incoordination of muscles like the tongue, cheeks and mouth. Scanning speech is another common symptom – this is where the speaker may have abnormally long pauses between sentences or words, disrupting the flow of their speech. Speech volume may also become lower as a result of a weaker diaphragm, making it harder for people to be understood. 

Other signs include chronic pain, brain fog and other cognitive issues, issues with swallowing, poor sleep and incontinence. If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, it’s worth having a chat with your doctor to get to the bottom of it.

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