It’s important for caregivers to be aware of the warning signs that your loved one may be experiencing a medical emergency. After all, you never know when a medical emergency will occur! Most medical emergencies have specific and unique warning signs, but what happens when those warning signs overlap? MS and strokes have very similar warning signs, leading many to wonder: is it MS or a stroke?
What is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a chronic disease resulting in nerve damage in both the brain and spinal cord. The body’s immune system attacks the nerve fibers surrounding the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. These nerve fibers are covered in myelin, a fatty substance that helps send electrical signals that control essential bodily functions such as movement and speech. But when myelin is destroyed, numerous areas of scar tissue develop, and as a result, nerve messages cannot be transmitted properly.
So what exactly causes MS? Unfortunately, researchers aren’t entirely sure, but there are some suggestive trends. It seems that those living farther from the equator are more likely to develop autoimmune disorders. Genetics also seem to be a factor as well, but research continues to find a more definite cause.
Know the Warning Signs: MS vs. Stroke
Below are the common warning signs of MS according to WebMD:
So why are the warning signs of MS and a stroke commonly confused? Just look at the warning signs of a stroke below and you’ll see why:
Now that you know the different (and somewhat overlapping) warning signs, what do you do if you notice any of these signs? Call 911 immediately. If someone is experiencing a stroke, the sooner they get to the hospital, the better chances they have of making a full recovery. Even if the person isn’t having a stroke, taking someone to the hospital is the right course of action since a neurological exam is needed to determine if they may have MS.
The warning signs of MS and a stroke may overlap, but just remember that knowing the warning signs can help you saved your loved one’s life!