MS diagnosis: recognize the first symptoms

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Multiple sclerosis symptoms

Multiple sclerosis diagnosis made difficult by extremely different symptoms

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are often misinterpreted and therefore diagnosed too late or not at all, experts from the German Society for Neurology (DGN) report on the occasion of the World MS Day.

As part of the World MS Day, experts from various institutions across Germany provide information on the causes, symptoms and health consequences of the chronic inflammatory disease of the nervous system, multiple sclerosis. According to the German Society of Neurology, around 130,000 people with MS live in Germany and between 2,500 and 4,000 new cases are added each year. However, the symptoms of an MS disease can vary widely and resemble those of other diseases, which makes the diagnosis significantly more difficult, reported Prof. Ralf Gold, director of the Neurological University Clinic in Bochum and board member of the disease-related competence network Multiple Sclerosis (KKNMS) on the occasion of the world MS tags.

Multiple sclerosis can affect all parts of the brain Multiple sclerosis mostly affects relatively young people between the ages of 20 and 40, according to the experts at DGN. The first symptoms of inflammatory nerve disease can range from mild visual disturbances to numbness in the head and / or weakness in the limbs, emphasized Prof. Gold. Those affected usually tend to see a specialist who corresponds to the symptoms. However, even if, for example, a visit to an ophthalmologist makes sense in the case of visual disturbances, a visit to the neurologist is more recommendable for MS-related impairments, the neurologist warned. Because, according to Prof. Gold, a veil can also be a sign of the inflammatory nerve disease MS. In principle, this can affect every part of the brain, everything can fail, "emphasized Prof. As for the inflammation of the optic nerve, patients usually perceive this as a milky veil or slight blurring of vision, but complete vision loss can also occur. Occasionally, MS-related inflammation of the optic nerve is accompanied by eye pain, the experts at DGN explained.

MS symptoms vary widely. Visual disturbances are among the first symptoms of chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in about 40 percent of MS patients, explained Prof. If a complete loss of vision occurs, the MS disease is also relatively easy by the ophthalmologist Recognizing such and the risk of a misdiagnosis is relatively low, added the expert. However, according to Prof. Gold, the milky veil and blurred vision are easily confused with the symptoms of other diseases, so that misdiagnoses are not uncommon here. The same applies to the motor problems, which are the first symptoms in 30 percent of MS patients. However, the orthopedic surgeons who are frequently consulted when the musculoskeletal system is impaired should be able to recognize relatively quickly whether an MS disease is the cause of the impairment or whether there are other health problems, explained Prof. Accordingly, the orthopedic surgeon can use reflex examinations to test the functioning of the nerves and the patients if necessary refer to a neurologist. In the remaining 30 percent of MS patients, the chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system initially manifests itself as numbness in individual limbs, Prof. reported. Especially in older patients, “a stroke is first thought of,” says the expert further. However, a magnetic resonance tomography of the head can determine relatively clearly whether there is a circulatory disorder in the arteries (signs of a stroke) or MS inflammation foci.

MS patients usually wait years for diagnosis. Overall, "the previously incurable disease" multiple sclerosis has "many different faces", emphasized Prof. Ralf Gold. It therefore takes an average of three to four years for the patient to have a clear diagnosis. In addition, the first symptoms of MS are usually very mild and often resolve on their own due to the spontaneous possibilities of regressions, reports Prof. However, as soon as the patients no longer have symptoms, the expert says that the diagnosis is often not continued. With the onset of the next episode of illness, the diagnosis begins almost from the beginning. To make matters worse, the second relapse may cause symptoms other than the first symptoms of the MS disease. The initial symptoms are therefore often not associated with the symptoms of the second relapse, which makes the diagnosis of MS even more difficult, explained Prof. Gold.

World MS Day: Raising awareness of the chronic disease The MS societies organized in the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) have been initiating World MS Day every year since 2009 in order to “raise public awareness of this chronic disease sharpen". The population should be informed and informed about multiple sclerosis and its effects on daily life, not least to awaken understanding for the concerns of MS patients. This year's World MS Day focuses on events and campaigns on the topics “The invisible symptoms of multiple sclerosis” and “Work and MS. Opportunities for employers to ensure participation in working life for those with MS are also a focus of the discussion. (fp)

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