Anyone can get MS, but women are twice as likely to be impacted, and it’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 60. Your chances of getting it are higher if you have a family history of the disease or other autoimmune disorders. Having a history of mononucleosis and being a smoker also ups the risk.
If you have MS, would you know it? It depends. In the early stages, symptoms can come and go; you may have one symptom and then nothing for a few months or even years. Here are the main ones to watch for. (Heal your whole body with Rodale’s 12-day liver detox for total body health.)
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If your eyesight seems to be getting worse, it may simply be because you’ve been staring at computer screens or are just getting older. But in some cases it could be a sign of MS, since the disease can cause the optic nerve in the eye to become inflamed. If part of your field of vision is becoming blurry or you’ve had episodes of double vision, talk to your doctor.
Running to the bathroom all the time or feel like you can’t get there fast enough? Don’t assume you’re just getting older or suffering the after-effects of childbirth. MS symptoms sometimes include frequent urination, strong urges, or incontinence. Sexual dysfunction can also be a symptom.
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Start by talking with your primary doctor, who may refer you to a neurologist. You’ll likely undergo an eye exam and a neurological exam. Sometimes a spinal tap is also required to test a sample of the fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
MS isn’t easy to diagnose, and it can take a while to sort it out, so some patience is in order. Experts say you should keep an eye on your symptoms and don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion. According to a survey performed by Oregon Health & Science University, many MS specialists see at least a few patients every year who’ve been misdiagnosed with the disease by other doctors.