6 Health Risks Linked to Multiple Sclerosis

Epilepsy and MS

According to research published in BMC Neurology in December 2013, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy (recurrent seizures) occur together more commonly than can be explained by chance, although why they occur together is not yet known.

Seizures can take several forms, including brief lapses in consciousness with jerking movements of the arms and legs, lapses in consciousness without abnormal movement, and episodes of staring or repetitive motions, during which the person remains conscious but is not aware of their environment.

If you experience a seizure, see your doctor. Not all seizures are caused by epilepsy, and it’s important to investigate what caused a seizure and whether future seizures are likely.

Sleep Disorders Associated With MS

Multiple sclerosis increases your risk of sleep disorders. Among those that have been linked to MS are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, and rapid eye movement behavior disorder. Research published in the January 2014 issue of Sleep Medicine found that treating underlying sleep disorders might help ease MS-related fatigue.

If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, talk with your doctor. Having a sleep study may help to pinpoint the problem, getting you to the right treatment faster.

Urinary and Bladder Problems

MS may leave you vulnerable to frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Symptoms include a frequent urge to go and a burning sensation with urination. UTIs can also make certain MS symptoms worse; that’s why antibiotic treatment is essential when you have a UTI.

Urinary urgency can also be a symptom of overactive bladder, a potential complication of MS. If you find yourself frequently running to the bathroom or waking up at night to urinate, see your doctor. Bladder problems related to MS can often be managed effectively.

To prevent UTIs, be sure to drink enough fluids, and limit those containing caffeine or alcohol. Also, for peace of mind, locate the bathrooms wherever you go so you can get there quickly.

Depression and Suicide

It’s normal to feel sadness and other negative emotions when you learn you have MS. As time goes on, you’re likely to have good days and bad days and, along with them, worries and fears. That’s normal, too.

But if you become depressed or extremely irritable and your sadness doesn’t seem to ever go away or impairs your daily functioning, seek help. Untreated depression can lead to suicide. A mental health professional experienced with MS can be an important member of your healthcare team.

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