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How is neuromyelitis optica different from multiple sclerosis (MS)?

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Doctors used to think NMO was a type of MS, as both cause inflammation and limit movement. Now, research shows they differ in several key ways:

  • MS usually happens more slowly and over a longer time.
  • There is a blood test for NMO, but there is no blood test for MS.
  • An MRI usually looks normal when you first get NMO but not with MS.
  • With NMO, you might have nausea, vomiting, and hiccups. This doesn't usually happen with MS.

From: What Is Neuromyelitis Optica? WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava on November 11, 2018

Medically Reviewed on 11/11/2018

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic -- Diseases and Conditions: "Devic's Disease."

Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation: "NMO Fact Sheet," "NMO Patient Resource Guide."

Mayo Clinic: "Neuromyelitis Optica."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Understanding Autoimmune Diseases."

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: "Neuromyelitis Optica."

National Organization for Rare Diseases: "Neuromyelitis Optica."

Reviewed by Neil Lava on November 11, 2018

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic -- Diseases and Conditions: "Devic's Disease."

Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation: "NMO Fact Sheet," "NMO Patient Resource Guide."

Mayo Clinic: "Neuromyelitis Optica."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Understanding Autoimmune Diseases."

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: "Neuromyelitis Optica."

National Organization for Rare Diseases: "Neuromyelitis Optica."

Reviewed by Neil Lava on November 11, 2018

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What causes neuromyelitis optica?

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