Late Onset Multiple Sclerosis: What You Need to Know

November 19, 2022
If you have a loved one who has recently been diagnosed with late-onset multiple sclerosis, you may be feeling overwhelmed and confused. You may not know what to expect or how to best care for your loved one. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about late-onset multiple sclerosis. We will talk about the symptoms, treatment options, and ways that you can help your loved one manage the disease.


What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the nerve cells as well as the fibers in your brain. As a result of this, the electrical signals your brain sends to your body are not able to be transmitted as well as they should. Your body will move and function differently as a result. Symptoms of MS usually appear between 20 and 40 years of age. There is a possibility, however, that you won't notice any symptoms until you are 50 or older. The condition known as late-onset multiple sclerosis (LOMS) occurs when the disease develops later than expected.

What are the symptoms of MS?

As a result of multiple sclerosis, the signs and symptoms may differ greatly from person to person and throughout the disease depending on the location of the nerve fibers which are affected. Some symptoms affect movement, such as:
  • A weakening or numbness of the limbs, predominantly occurring on one side of the body at any given time, or your legs as well as your trunk, usually on one side of your body at a time
  • As a result of certain neck movements, especially when bending the neck forward, there may be an electric shock sensation. This is called the Lhermitte sign.
  • Unsteady gait, tremors, or lack of coordination are some of the symptoms

Many vision problems can occur, including:
  • The loss of vision in one or both eyes is usually gradual, affecting one eye at a time, and is often accompanied by discomfort during eye movements
  • Double vision that persists for a long time
  • Blurry vision

Multiple sclerosis symptoms may also include:
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling or pain in parts of your body
  • Problems with sexual, bowel, and bladder function

How is MS diagnosed?

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, often referred to as a differential diagnosis, relies on ruling out other conditions that may cause similar signs and symptoms to those described in MS, which is why there are no specific tests available.
Your doctor may then recommend:
  • Blood tests, Currently, tests to check for specific biomarkers associated with MS are under development and may also aid in the diagnosis of the disease if they can identify other conditions with similar symptoms to MS.
  • Spinal tap (lumbar puncture), The procedure involves removing a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid from your spinal canal to be analyzed in the laboratory. This sample may show abnormalities in antibodies, which are known to be associated with MS. A spinal tap can also help to rule out infections and other conditions which show symptoms similar to MS.
  • MRI, The results of this test may reveal areas of MS (lesions) in your brain or spinal cord. To highlight lesions that indicate your disease is in an active phase, you may receive an intravenous injection of contrast material.
  • Evoked potential tests, In response to the stimuli presented to your nervous system, your nervous system produces electrical signals that are recorded by your brain. A test for evoked potentials can either be performed with visual stimuli or with electrical stimuli. These tests involve watching a moving visual pattern, or short electrical impulses are applied to nerves in your legs or arms so that they move. As the information travels through your nerve pathways, electrodes measure how fast it travels.
The diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS is generally fairly straightforward and based on a pattern of symptoms consistent with the presence of the disease, as well as results of brain imaging scans, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in most people with this disorder.
When a person has unusual symptoms or a disease that is progressing, diagnosing MS can be more difficult. A spinal fluid analysis, evoked potentials, and additional imaging may be necessary in these cases, as well as further testing.

What are the treatment options for MS patients?

While there is no cure for any type of multiple sclerosis, there are many ways in which you can manage this condition. There are some common treatments for late-onset multiple sclerosis, including:
  • Medication. While there are several types of medications that can be used to treat relapsing forms of MS, there are no FDA-approved medications that can be used to treat primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Fortunately, your doctor may be able to give you treatments that will help you manage your symptoms, which is good news.
  • Managing relapses. There are a variety of therapies that can help manage MS flare-ups, including corticosteroids, steroid hormones, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in a gel form, or plasma exchange.
  • Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, such as physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy, can help you manage the way MS changes your body in the long run. With these programs, you will be able to improve your mobility, limit fatigue, and improve your memory. Speech-language pathology can help you if you are having trouble speaking or swallowing.
If you have been diagnosed with late-onset multiple sclerosis, it is important to speak with your doctor. There are many ways in which they can help you manage your symptoms and improve the quality of your life in many different ways.

The Role of Caregivers

It is very common for caregivers at home to be unable to keep up with the physical demands of MS as time progresses. You must know what questions to ask when considering whether you can meet the needs of an individual at home.

In many cases, family relationships improve when family members are no longer the primary caregivers for their children. As a result of having to be constantly available and do very physical work as a caregiver, and as a result of not having to rely on their family member for help, people with MS can once again maintain a more normal family relationship.

Contact BrightStar Care Howard Today!

If you have questions regarding our services in Howard County, MD, or want to book a free home visit, please contact us at 410-910-9425. Our website also includes a contact form that you can use to get in touch with us. It will be a pleasure to meet you and your family, and we look forward to providing you with the care and support you need.