Monday, February 27, 2017

Dizziness and Multiple Sclerosis

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) is enough to make your head spin. The amount of information available regarding MS and its symptoms is downright dizzying. But MS doesn’t just figuratively turn your world topsy-turvy, it can literally make things unsteady and disorienting.

Dizziness is a common symptom that affects approximately 20 to 30 percent of people in the general population. The term dizziness is a bit vague, but it basically means a feeling of disequilibrium. One particular subtype of dizziness that can affect people with MS is vertigo — a sensation that you or the world around you is spinning or balanced on a tilted axis.

Central vertigo, caused by disease of or damage to the central nervous system, is responsible for almost one-fourth of cases of dizziness reported by all patients. The most common central causes of dizziness and vertigo are cerebrovascular disorders related to blood circulation in the brain, migraine, multiple sclerosis, tumors in the brain stem or cerebellum, neurodegenerative disorders, some medications, and psychiatric disorders.

Dizziness in MS may be caused by nystagmus, eye movement disorders, vestibular problems, or lesions on certain parts of the brain or cranial nerves. According to a 2013 study published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, dizziness affects more than 70 percent of people with MS. Prior studies suggested that dizziness affects 49 to 59 percent of people with MS.

Read this post in its entirety:
What Can Cause Dizziness in MS?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why Do My Legs Hurt?

People living with MS can experience different types of pain in the limbs (legs or arms), the most common of which are neuropathic or musculoskeletal in origin. Neuropathic pain in MS is frequently caused by lesions in the spinal cord and is characterized by sensory changes. Spinal cord lesions may also cause muscle weakness, spasticity, ataxia, or other gait disturbances, each of which can lead to musculoskeletal problems.

Do you experience burning, itching, numbness, tingling, stabbing, or the sensation of bug bites in your legs? These are examples of paresthesia, a form of neuropathic pain, and are often experienced by people with MS. A particularly strange sensation is the feeling of water dripping on or down the leg, which is an example of dysesthesia. Other dysesthesias involve the abnormal interpretation of sensation, hypersensitivity to touch, or a tight banding sensation.

Neuropathic pain and sensory changes are often treated with anti-seizure medications, such as gabapentin, pregabalin, carbamazepine, tizanidine, or clonazepam, and certain antidepressants.

For me, spasticity is a significant source of musculoskeletal pain in the legs. Other causes of MS-related musculoskeletal pain include poor posture, inefficient walking (gait), physical inactivity, muscle deconditioning (being out of shape), and muscle fatigue or weakness.

Read this post in its entirety:
Why Does MS Make My Legs Hurt?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is optic neuritis?

Optic neuritis (ON) is an inflammation of the optic nerve, a bundle of fibers that transmits visual information from your eye to your brain. Symptoms of ON are varied, often including pain behind the eye and different degrees of vision loss. People with ON may experience blurry vision, blind spots, a graying out of vision, or dull colors. ON can, but does not always, result in temporary blindness and usually affects only one eye at a time. ON may be accompanied by flashes of light or new floaters which should be reported to your eye doctor and/or neurologist.

What causes optic neuritis?

Common causes of optic neuritis include demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD, formerly known as neuromyelitis optica or Devic’s disease). In MS and NMOSD, the immune system attacks the myelin surrounding nerve fibers of the brain, optic nerves, or spinal cord resulting in inflammation and/or lesions that disrupt nerve signals to and from the brain. If NMOSD is suspected, a blood test can help distinguish it from MS and facilitate diagnosis.

Other causes of optic neuritis may include bacterial or viral infections (e.g., Lyme disease, cat-scratch fever, syphilis, measles, mumps, herpes), other autoimmune diseases (e.g., sarcoidosis, lupus), or drug side-effects (e.g., quinine, some antibiotics), according to the Mayo Clinic.

When I had the blinding case of optic neuritis in 2000, the results of my MRI showed inflammation of the optic nerve but no lesions.

I was not diagnosed with “post-infectious optic neuritis.” I had had a severe cold during the prior weeks. The MRI helped to eliminate the other potential diagnosis suggested, which was brain tumor. Fortunately, I did not have a brain tumor.

Read this post in its entirety:
MS Signs & Symptoms: Optic Neuritis

Friday, February 10, 2017

What is Hypogeusia?

The senses of smell and taste are closely related. Working together they can both alert us to dangers and enhance our enjoyment or dislike of certain foods. Our tongues are covered in thousands of little bumps called taste buds. These taste buds contain receptors that allow us to perceive five elements of taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory.

A reduced ability to taste is called hypogeusia. A distortion in taste is called dysgeusia or parageusia. The complete lack of the sense of taste is called ageusia.

There are many things that can alter one’s ability to taste, such as common viral infections, smoking, or certain medications. People with multiple sclerosis (MS) undergoing intravenous steroid treatment for relapse frequently report a temporary “metallic” taste in the mouth. But that’s not the only way that MS might affect taste.

A problem with taste in MS is thought to be rare; but when it does happen, it can seriously impact one’s quality of life. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Neurology reported that taste deficits may be more common in people with MS than previously thought and are associated with MS-related lesions in specific parts of the brain.

Read this post in its entirety:
MS Signs & Symptoms: Loss of Taste or Hypogeusia