Early Indicators of Multiple Sclerosis Evident 5 Years Before Diagnosis, Reveals Recent Study

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A recent study has revealed five early symptoms of multiple sclerosis that can be identified five years prior to the diagnosis. According to Mayo Clinic, “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system).

“In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerve fibers.

“There's no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, there are treatments to help speed the recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease and manage symptoms.”

Researchers have found common health problems that could be the first signs of multiple sclerosis. A study published in the journal Neurology identified symptoms that can ring alarm bells. While vision problem and difficulty in walking are some of the common symptoms, here are a few other symptoms that you should look out for.

Researchers found that constipation, urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder infections, depression and sexual problems could be early warning signs.

While these symptoms might point towards multiple sclerosis, these are also common symptoms that could point towards other diseases. According to report on express.co.uk, Dr Celine Louapre, of Sorbonne University in Paris, said, “Of course, not everyone who has these symptoms will go on to develop MS.”

The expert also shared that the new research could help understand who is at a high risk of getting multiple sclerosis, such as the ones with a family history of the condition. Other tell-tale signs of the autoimmune condition include difficulty walking, vision problems and muscle stiffness or spasms.

It can take several years for patients to diagnose the condition and receive treatment for the same. The researchers looked at data from 20,000 patients in the UK and France who were newly diagnosed with MS. The team then compared each patient’s medical history with three other people who matched their age and sex but did not suffer from the condition.

The findings revealed that people with multiple sclerosis were 22 percent more likely to have depression in the five years before their condition was confirmed, compared to those who did not have MS.

These patients were also 50 percent more likely to have constipation. They also had a 38 percent risk of UTIs, 37 percent risk of sexual problems and 21 percent risk of bladder infections.

The team then compared these symptoms to problems of those with other autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease and lupus. The above-mentioned five possible symptoms were also more common among these patients in the five years pre-diagnosis compared to people who didn’t have any of the diseases.

The researchers explained that this means the five signs “lack specificity to MS”. They also said it “remains unclear” whether the ailments are “risk factors for MS” or “non-specific early MS symptoms”.

However, they hope these “early signs” can help scientists understand the biological mechanisms that occur in MS patients before “actual symptoms of the disease develop”.

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