Northern Ireland’s Multiple Sclerosis charity

Symptoms of MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) attacks the nervous system. It is a neurological condition which disrupts communication between the brain and nerves in the body.

What is MS?

It is not a case of “being bad with your nerves” but rather that motor nerves, which operate muscles, and sensory nerves, which convey sensation such as touch, may not work properly. This may mean for example difficulty in walking or a failure to sense a very hot object.

But not all nerves are affected by MS. Some, such as the nerves working the heart and lungs, are not directly affected by MS.

What happens when MS attacks?

The nerve covering known as the myelin sheath becomes inflamed and messages travelling to and from the brain to various parts of the body are either altered or interrupted.

This may be a frightening experience not only for the sufferer but also for family and friends. Such an attack may be disabling and make the person feel very unwell.

But fear of MS is compounded by not understanding the nature of the disease and anxiety over unpredictable outcomes.

Does MS affect everyone in the same way?

Not everyone with MS is affected in precisely the same way. Also MS attacks follow no uniform pattern. Some people may experience repeat attacks which are very similar while others will find that each attack affects them in a different way.

Symptoms of MS

There are a range of symptoms, but it is important to remember that these will vary in number and severity. They may be experienced acutely during an attack and then ease considerably.

Action MS Fatigue

The most common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, tingling, numbness, poor co-ordination, unsteadiness and problems with balance, eyesight problems, tremors, spasticity or muscle stiffness, slurred speech, swallowing problems, bladder or bowel problems, sexual problems, sensitivity to heat or cold, short-term memory loss, mood swings, euphoria and depression.

For more information about the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, contact the Action MS office to request a copy of our free information booklet ‘More About MS Symptoms’. Tel: 028 907 907 07 or e-mail

Free information booklets

If you would like more information please contact Action MS to request a set of free information booklets.

Need to talk to someone? Call us on 028 9079 0707

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Schools Campaign

The Action MS “Walk for MS” is about school communities taking steps to beat multiple sclerosis as well as developing caring attitudes.

Find out more about “Walk for MS”