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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - When To Call a Doctor

Some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) are similar to those of many other illnesses. See your doctor if over a period of time you have more than one symptom, such as:

  • Blurry, foggy, or hazy vision, eyeball pain, loss of vision, or double vision.
  • A feeling of heaviness or weakness, involuntary leg dragging, stiffness, walking problems, and clumsiness.
  • Tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation; numbness; tightness in a band around the trunk, arms, or legs; or electric shock sensations moving down the back, arms, or legs.
  • Inability to hold urine or to completely empty the bladder.
  • Dizziness and unsteadiness.
  • Problems with memory, attention span, finding the right words for what you mean, and daily problem-solving.

If you have been diagnosed with MS, see your doctor if:

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  • Your attacks become more frequent or severe.
  • You begin having a symptom that you have not had before or you notice a significant change in symptoms that are already present.

Watchful waiting

Milder MS-type symptoms can be caused by many other conditions or may occur now and then in healthy people. For example, lots of people have minor numbness in their fingers or a mild dizzy spell once in a while. Stiffness and muscle weakness can result from being more active than usual. A wait-and-see approach (watchful waiting) is appropriate for these types of everyday aches and pains, so long as they do not continue.

If your symptoms occur more often or don't go away, talk to your doctor.

For people with MS

Talk to your doctor about what to expect from the disease and from treatment. MS is an unpredictable disease, but you probably can get some idea of what is "normal" and what symptoms or problems are reasons for concern.

Some people who have MS want active, regular support from their doctors. Others want to manage their condition on their own as much as possible. Wherever you are in this range, find out which signs or symptoms mean that you need to see your doctor. And seek help when you need it.

Who to see

Health professionals who may be involved in evaluating symptoms of MS and treating the condition include:

  • Family doctors or internists. Consult your doctor when symptoms first start. He or she will refer you to a neurologist if needed. If you have MS, your family doctor or internist can treat your general health problems even if you see a neurologist for MS treatment.
  • Neurologists. A neurologist can decide whether your symptoms are caused by MS. He or she can also help you decide what may be the best treatment for your condition.

Many university medical centers and large hospitals have MS clinics or centers staffed by neurologists and other health professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating MS. They may be able to provide the most thorough evaluation.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 15, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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