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My father has MS, could I be experiencing symptoms of early MS?
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My father has MS, could I be experiencing symptoms of early MS?

For the past year I have had a lingering fear of developing MS like my dad.  However, my dad (dxed at age 46, African-American, athletic) was diagnosed with MS shortly after having a staph infection which landed him in the hospital for 8 days which then lead to 2-3 months of strong antibiotics being pumped straight into his veins.  My dad used to be a very athletic person who played tennis and basketball every week.  He has never had any illness (he never even caught the flu!) and got the staph infection after a knee surgery.  I was wondering what my chances are of developing MS?  I don't think my father would have ever developed the disease if he had never gotten the infection.  My dad also has a cousin (30, female, athletic too) who was diagnosed with MS shortly after my dad was.  I don't know her story though.  No one else in my family has or had MS.  My dad and I both grew up near Seattle, Washington in the suburbs.

Now, to move on to my potential symptoms.  I am a bit of a hypochondriac (ever since my dad was dxed and seeing his decline) so I tend to focus on things.  Since last year I have been dealing with a numbness in the little and ring fingers of my left hand as well as some weakness when clenching  my fist.  However, this could be due to a pinched nerve as I pop my wrists and elbows a lot and one time I felt something pop back into place and the numbness went away.  Now it's back (for about a month now) and I feel a connection to one of the muscles in my back that feels out of place.  Also, I have had issues with my left leg which includes numbness of my second to last toe on my foot.  It only gets numb if I stand for too long and then it goes away once I shift my weight.  There is also pain when I press on the top of my foot towards the middle and outer side of my foot.  Could this also be a pinched nerve?  Maybe mild Sciatica or MS?  My last set of symptoms would be an almost cyclical onset of right eye muscle twitching (under the eye) and a tingling near the top right handside of my head.  It's almost like an ant is crawling around there.  I also get itchy on random parts of my body for no reason and then it passes after a day or two.  My balance is good, no burning sensations, only mild loss of sensation on my back where that muscle is (possibly pulled or strained from bad posture), nothing that I can call real fatigue, mild headaches sometimes, no incontinence.

I guess what I'm asking is whether there is a higher chance of me developing MS in the future?  I beleive my dad's MS as brought on by the infection and subsequent antibiotics, is this possible?  Also, I tend to be anemic and have heard that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to MS.  I try to eat fish once a week, get enough sunshine every day and will be buying b12 and iron supplements soon.  I also plan to get an allergy test to make sure I'm not allergic to milk or gluten.  I've seen my dad's disease progress rather quickly, in 6 years he has gone from being a lively and athletic person to sitting in an electric wheelchair and he can barely talk on the phone for more than 10 minutes at a time now.  I'm just worried about something like that happening to me and would like to know if I should go and see a neurologist or what are the most identifiable early symptoms of MS or even ones that aren't so identifiable?  Thank you for taking the time to read my story!  I know I rambled a bit but this has been on my mind for a whole year!  I look forward to reading your replies.
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6 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi and welcome. Love your screen name.

As to the hereditabilty of MS, please see http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Multiple-Sclerosis/Genetics-of-MS/show/923576. This was posted just the other day by Quix, our resident but unofficial expert.

It's not necessarily true that your dad wouldn't have gotten MS had he not had an infection. We all get infections of one sort or other quite frequently, without getting MS. It's true that an MS relapse can be precipitated by some sort of infection, but the MS
was there all along, if not causing symptoms. I'm not at all sure that the very first symptoms of MS, the first attack, can be brought about by an infection. Possibly it could bring it to the forefront. MS is not caused by a weakened immune system. In general our immune systems are quite normal, but they get confused by what is 'its own' and what is 'foreign.'

There is a great deal of research about the causes of MS, and it's quite clear that there's no single factor. It seems that a 'perfect storm' of physical events and chemicals must come about to 'catch' a given individual while sparing the huge majority of others. In the US, the odds are maybe 750 to 1 against.

I can understand why you are so focused on small bodily sensations, yet it's possible that being focused is what's making you worry. We all have aches and pains here and there that we immediately forget about or don't even notice, but if we fixate we notice every little thing. Your problem with your fingers sounds a lot like a pinched ulnar nerve, and nothing else you mention seems MS-like.

There's nothing we can do to prevent MS. Eating well and taking vitamin supplements is always a good idea, on general principles, but there's no evidence whatever that MS can be warded off. You might see your PCP for a checkup and to have your vitamin levels checked. If tests come out well the probability is overhwelming that you are fine.

It's very understandable that seeing your dad deteriorate has caused you to worry, but focusing on that will make things worse. My advice is to live your life and not expect to become MS's next victim. It seldom works that way. I'm sure you take good care of your dad, and that brings you comfort.

ess
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562511_tn?1285907760
Ditto to everything ess has said.  You might find some peace of mind once you get your back issues addressed.  A good massage or a visit to a good gentle chiropractor might get rid of the little numbness you have.  While I cannot say that you will never get MS, the very mild symptoms you describe are easily explained by other causes.  You explained the other causes yourself.  Consider talking with your fathers neurologist about the likelihood of you developing MS.  My guess is you will feel a lot better after you have that discussion.  

Just for the record though, I believe that the antibiotic Levaquin brought my MS to the forefront. While my antibiotic story is "anecdotal," it is what I believe.  This won't stop me from taking another antibiotic if needed because infections can possibly cause a relapse.  It just won't be Cipro or others in the fluoroquinolone family.  A very prestigious neurologist won't give these antibiotics to his patients because they raise the same interferon levels much in the same way that infections do and suspects, in theory, that they bring on relapses & exacerbations. (not the same interferons in MS medications)

I think your ideas on getting plenty of sunshine and generally taking good care of yourself is a good idea. It won't hurt anything and who knows?  It could take away one of the factors that bring MS on.  No one is certain what exactly causes MS, but don't live in fear.  

One thing I can share with you on a person level is Don't worry about something until you have something to worry about. For instance, don't worry about the boogeyman crawling in your window until someone is crawling through your window.  Of course, take precautions to lock your window and that sort of thing, but worrying about something before it exists wastes time and energy and leaves you with less energy and not as able to focus on what is happening in present time.  ( I am sorry if I sound like a mother hen, it is in my nature)  So lock your window (take care of yourself)  and don't worry.  The chances of the boogeyman crawling through your window are slim.  If he does however (MS)  at some distant time, you will have the strength to deal with it then.

Sorry about your father.  Maybe this forum can help you with any concernns, questions, or problems he is having.  Invite him here.

Karen      
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807129_tn?1245277127
I know how you feel.  My mom has MS, and ever since I started having sensory symptoms in 2003, I live in constant fear of also getting it.  I have always been an anxious person.  But I also have very real symptoms and even have an abnormal MRI.  I am not yet diagnosed.  My symptoms don't quite fit the time & space pattern of MS and my lesions are punctate & non-specific, so they can't say MS yet (though all the mimics have been ruled out).

Part of me just wants to try to forget about it until something major happens (i.e. wait for the boogeyman to crawl through my window) that can help lead to a diagnosis.  But I know with my anxiety I'm just not going to be able to wait patiently...which is why I pursued it with a neurologist to begin with.  But now I wonder if I would have been better off over the past 6 years not pursuing it...I have had 2 repeat MRIs with very little change (if any, no new lesions, old ones may look larger, but could be attributable to new technology).  I am kind of stuck in the same spot I've been in all along, and still anxious.  I would just hate to get further down the road, have a major attack, and know I might have prevented it by being on a DMD.

So, sorry, I don't think I am being very helpful, other than to say I know where you are coming from.  It's like I wanted to get to the bottom of my odd symptoms, but now 6 years later not being able to say it's MS and not being able to attribute them to anything else either is rough for me.  As you probably are, I am constantly hyper-sensitive to all of my bodies twitches and twinges now, and I probably over-react to a lot of things that are relatively normal.  It's hard having a parent with MS.  Hugs to you.
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow, thank you so much everyone for your responses!  I must say that I totally agree with the boogeyman analogy.  I am definitely trying to take care of myself (keep my window locked!) but it's kind of sad to think that it may be inevitable.  Does everyone here believe that MS is inevitable and there is no way to prevent it?  I'm curious about everyones state of health before MS symptoms came about.  If all have you have already discussed this in a thread then I would appreciate being directed there.  One of the things about the genetics that caught my attention is that Quixotic says that if you have a parent with MS you have a 1/35 - 1/50 chance.  Well, that would be plus the fact that I caught mono about 2 years ago (no complications, just lots of rest and after 2 weeks I was fine).  So with my 1/50 chance and the added EBV where does that put my risk?  Is it inevitable?  Also, I read that the chances of an identical twin of someone with MS only has a 25-30% chance of developing it, for some reason that sounds about the same as if your parent has MS.  Any thoughts?  Because I had mono and my dad has MS (he had mono 2x as a child) does that make my chances the same as the identical twin of someone who has MS?

I'm also really curious about any possible connection between athleticism and MS or overly-effecient immune systems leading to overreactions to infections.  I remember my dad was never sick (cold or flu) for more than an evening when he would merely throw up and then immediately be back to normal.  He was never at home sick with a cold, no sniffles, nothing.  Could there be some connection there?

And the connection between antibiotics, infections or prior illness just before MS seems too big of a coincedence to be a coincedence.  I mean, your whole body is invaded by a bacteria which would eventually kill you (my dad's leg has an 8-inch scar from where they drained all of the pus that was spreading from his knee down to his foot in a matter of 24 hours) if not for great modern medicine.  Then come the antibiotics which were literally pumped into one of his biggest veins that go right to your heart (does anyone know what I'm talking about?) for over 2 months, every day, 2x a day.  Antibiotics kill ALL bacteria, no discrimination.  I then think that because his immune system had such a shock wave of invasion (infection) and then a few thousand atom bombs thrown into the mixture (antibiotics) it would start freak out and go into hyper-drive, right?  It's just what makes sense to me.  He started having symptoms of MS less than 3 months after stopping antibiotics.  He was also over the age of 40, non-Caucasian, male and no family history of neurological disorders.  What do you all think about this?

I guess I'm just trying to think out of the box a little.  I have heard of people suppressing their MS symptoms through diet and supplements, exercise and all of that.  What do you think about these claims? Are any of you trying holistic therapies?  My dad was actually fine for about the first 3-4 years without medication and with lots of good nutrition.  Now that he is not living near me (I'm in Turkey with my husband for the next year or so) he is living with relatives who do not eat well (mostly meat and sugar diet) and they got him started on medications.  After this he started going downhill, and fast.  Does anyone know what the cause could be, any speculations?

Wow, once again my post has reached novel lengths!  I'm just so excited to have a supportive group of people who are living similar things that understand my feelings.  It's hard because my husband doesn't know anything about MS and it's not very common in Turkey (though I do have a Turkish female friend who lived in Maryland for 8 years when she was in elementary and high school who now might have MS).  Thank you all again for your responses.  I will try my best to keep positive!

Oh!  One more thing, has anyone noticed that the diets of those in the regions where MS is most common include more red meat, dairy, grains and sugar?  In Turkey they eat meat maybe once a week and very little fast food but they do eat lots of yogurt!  Even on their pasta, hehe!
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562511_tn?1285907760
Very little is known about MS.  Very little is known about the brain.  Lot's of theories and possible connections.  Every MS patient is told to treat any infection early because anything that revs up the immune system can cause a relapse.  Given that, it would not surprise me that viruses and bacteria can "cause" MS, though a couple more of environmental factors may have to be in place.   It is believed that MS is an autoimmune disease like arthritis, lupus, etc.  and that the immune system attacks the myelin sheaths of the brain and spine.  A new theory is that there are variants within the different types of MS and would explain, in theory why some folks with the same type of MS have different symptoms and disease course.

Wheat gluten has been a suspected culprit in MS for a long time.  It's nearly impossible to avoid it if you like bread or pastas.  It is in nearly everything.  I look for "gluten free" foods. While antibiotics are miraculous, we are taking them unnecessarily and making mutant bacterias and who knows what else.  They are being unleashed into our environment and flushed down toilets.  They are now finding jet fuel in baby formulas.  Great.

On yes, yogurt!  Much of our foods are over-processed and lack enzymes.  I'm growing some of my own veggies now and am picking my neighbors fruit trees.  

What are the odds of a non-Caucasian man getting MS?  Well, before Richard Pryor and Montel I never heard of it.  Whatever protected non-caucasians, non-female populations before may be gone???  I don't know.  It's still statistically low for an African-American man to have MS.  What does those statistics mean for you?  Chances are you won't draw the short straw.

Interesting.....your observations about the strong and athletic.  I was reading about one of the pandemics recently  (I can't remember which one)  It was observed that this flu wiped out the seemingly strongest persons first, while often sparing the weaker persons.  It is believed that the stronger appearing persons had the strongest immune system and therefore launched the biggest defense against the invading virus.  This resulted in the body responding with a huge amount of inflammation, that, after all was said and done actually caused the demise of the "strongest."  At first, inflammation acts in a protective fashion.  Too much of it causes destruction wherever it is located;the brain, lungs and every other organ.  I'll try to find that story again so I can quote it properly.      

Whatever the case, keep thinking out-of-the-box for yourself and act on your observations. Lock that window and dead-bolt it too!
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1968040_tn?1325666772
My father was diagnosed with MS about 6-7 months before he died at age 51. I am 27 years old and was diagnosed 3 years ago with Fibromyalgia, however, am a bit concerned. I do understand that there is no proof or clear cut evidence of MS being hereditary but my symptoms have change since this past summer. I now have almost unbearable headaches, extremely tired all the time with adequate sleep. Am under no more than normal stress. I have muscle twitches on the left side of my face as well as eyelid twitching with that. I have spasms in my legs and sometimes my arms. I see a neurologist regularly as I have had complex partial seizures since around age 3-4 years. I have mentioned some of my symptoms to him and he put me on Orap which is a medication for tourettes to see if it would alleviate the twitching in my face as well as Neurontin for my headaches and muscle spasms. Both of which are not doing much good. What should I do? Should I just carry on and try to ignore as much as possible or should I confide again with my Neurologist?
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