Multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect women differently than men, resulting in different signs and symptoms. Fortunately, you can start an online search to learn more about these symptoms, helping you to potentially spot MS sooner.
MS can be a bit of a chameleon, presenting a different set of symptoms in each person it affects. Knowing what to keep your eye out for can be greatly beneficial in helping you get a diagnosis – and subsequent treatment – earlier.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune neurological condition that can impact patients in various ways and in some rare cases, even be fatal due to complications. This disabling disease causes the immune system to attack the myelin protecting the nerve fibers which impacts communication between the brain and the rest of the body. While the condition is progressive, it can have varying symptoms in women as compared to men, and women are more commonly diagnosed with the condition.
Cognitive and emotional problems is one of the early markers of the disease in women. About 60 percent of those with a diagnosis of MS also suffer from some form of emotional distress.
Mood-related symptoms include depression, irritability, mood swings, and fits of crying or even laughing. Cognitive signs include memory trouble, inability to multitask, and trouble concentrating on a task.
Loss of Coordination
MS involves the body’s immune system attacking the nervous system that controls movement and other functions, so it’s no big surprise that it can impact coordination. MS patients can experience balance problems along with a lack of coordination, and the woman may feel more clumsy than usual.
A “pins and needles” sensation can happen if you’re sitting in the same position for too long due to lack of blood flow. But if you find your feet, legs, arms or hands are “falling asleep” more often than usual, it could be a sign of MS.
MS can also make it tough to distinguish temperature because of how it affects the nerves. For example, you may not be able to feel whether water in a sink is hot or cold.
Feelings of Fatigue, Nausea and Dizziness
“MS fatigue” is very different from simply being tired or even exhausted from activity. This form of fatigue, which can physical, mental, or both, involves the very sudden loss of energy. Feeling very tired can affect short-term memory and the ability to find the right words. Rest can help, but the fatigue cannot be dealt with in the same way as those without the condition.
MS-related nausea in women is often connected with dizziness. An early MS symptom in women is “extreme vertigo,” which is the feeling like you’re on a roller coaster or perched somewhere high, and it’s caused by an inner ear problem. Dizzy spells aren’t a clear sign of MS, as they can also be a result of anemia, reactions to medications, low blood sugar, or even low blood pressure. Consult your doctor to sort it out.
Even if you once had a good eye for distinguishing colors, MS can take away this ability. This condition is called optic neuritis and is a result of the loss of insulation around the optic nerves in the brain.
On top of losing color vision, MS can also cause partial blindness or complete blindness in one eye. The onset of visual problems associated with MS tends to be slow. If you notice any major changes in vision, you should consult a doctor.
Effects Related To The Menstrual Cycle
Any illness that throws your immune system out of whack, such as MS, can block your period (a condition called amenorrhea). It’s quite normal for your body to skip a period occasionally due to stress or temporary illness. But if your period disappears for more than 3-months consecutively (with no other explanation), you should consult a doctor.
Interestingly, not only does MS not affect female fertility, but symptoms might actually stabilize or even subside during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters. Unfortunately, symptom relapse is common following delivery.
Start a Search
Understanding multiple sclerosis, especially the signs that are more common in women, can be a big help in managing this condition. There’s a whole world of information online to help you get even more acquainted with the condition. So take some time to look up more resources and find support communities online. The more you learn, the better prepared you’ll be to handle whatever comes your way.