What are common symptoms to look for?

What are common symptoms to look for?

Amandine, a patient who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 16, after 7 years of therapeutic wandering, readily admits: “How many times have doctors told me: But it's in your head! They even told me I'm crazy.” And that's when Amandine described the tingling in her head. Hands, chronic fatigue, dizziness, nausea, depressive stages or even problems with the digestive system and walking.

However, these symptoms are often characteristic of MS. This neurological disease currently affects 120,000 French people, two-thirds of whom are women, and the average age when diagnosed is 32 years for all sexes combined.

Depression, sexual disorders, constipation, cystitis…

According to French researchers, it will be possible to link certain symptoms to the onset of MS, even before the disease appears.

To prove this, the team of Professors Octave Ginepretier and Thomas Nedelak* reviewed 113 presentations over 5 years, among “20,174 patients with multiple sclerosis, 54,790 patients without multiple sclerosis, and 37,814 patients with two autoimmune diseases.” Such as MS mainly affects women and young people, in which case 30,477 patients suffer from Crohn's disease and 7,337 patients suffer from lupus.

As a result, patients with MS experience more depression, sexual problems, constipation, cystitis and other urinary tract infections in the five years before they are diagnosed. “These symptoms persisted and increased during the five years after diagnosis.”

Delay the onset of disability as much as possible

The fact remains that these symptoms, also associated with Crohn's disease or lupus, “will not be sufficient to make an early diagnosis, but they will certainly help us to better understand the mechanisms of multiple sclerosis – which has many causes – and to come to a “reconstruction of its natural history,” notes Professor Guinbretier.

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“The challenge today is to detect the disease as early as possible, long before lesions are visible by MRI, with the hope of delaying the onset of disability as much as possible,” mused Professor Céline Loabry, neurologist at Petit-Salpêtrière. Hospital and head of the Center for Clinical Investigation at the Brain Institute.

The symptoms should not be taken seriously

“One of the big difficulties that multiple sclerosis faces is… [en effet] We do not observe a strict correspondence between the severity of lesions on nerve fibers and patients' symptoms. This greatly limits our ability to predict the course of the disease.

Fortunately, most patients with these symptoms will never develop MS or other autoimmune diseases. But “in some familial forms of multiple sclerosis, for example, these signs will help alert as early as possible, and perhaps intervene at a therapeutic level.”

*Sorbonne University, Paris Brain Institute – ICM, INSERM, CNRS, INRIA, Paris, France

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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