I don’t know why I don’t write about multiple sclerosis (MS) more often.
My first cousin has MS and lives in a wheelchair, so I know firsthand how debilitating the condition can be.
But since it’s something that often flies under the radar until it’s too late—when symptoms are apparent, it’s often because the disease has moved beyond an early stage—I’ve never felt I had much to add to the conversation.
That is, until now…
Predict MS five years sooner
I recently came across a fascinating new study that found a few very common symptoms could be early warning signs of MS.
In fact, they may predict the disease up to five years prior to a diagnosis!
Those conditions are: depression, constipation, cystitis/urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction.
Researchers note these are common in two other autoimmune diseases: lupus and Crohn’s disease.
But if you’re at particular risk of developing MS—perhaps you have a family history or other risk factors, like incidental inflammatory lesions discovered on MRI—the above symptoms could point to a diagnosis.
In fact, they may even predict an active stage of the disease prior to experiencing typical symptoms of MS, like:
- Difficulty walking
- Vision problems (such as blurred vision)
- Bladder control issues
- Numbness or tingling in different parts of the body
- Muscle stiffness and spasms
- Balance and coordination trouble
- Issues with learning, thinking, or planning
I always like to point out ways of spotting disease EARLY—so that hopefully we can intervene before it’s too late, or in a way that actually makes a difference in the outcome.
So, I very much welcome this news for MS, which can be hard to detect in an early stage.
In fact, research shows MS is often well-underway for years prior to the bigger neurological symptoms that first point to a diagnosis.
And while many people can live with MS without experiencing a decreased lifespan, for others, the disease can be debilitating. (It’s not uncommon for women to become afflicted in the prime of their lives.)
So, it might just be life-changing to have a specific cluster of symptoms to watch out for. Especially since some, at first glance, can appear unrelated.
At the end of the day, reducing lifestyle risk factors—for any disease—is in our power. Many people choose to be proactive. Others need the impetus of knowing something is brewing to take charge.
Whichever you are, just know this: YOU know YOUR body (and health) best. Pay attention to any warning sign of disease. Because it’s only then that you can become an active participant in your health, rather than an innocent bystander to illness and death.
“Depression, Constipation, UTIs Early Signs of MS?” Medscape, 12/15/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/depression-constipation-utis-early-signs-ms-2023a1000vjy)