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Does this sound like MS?/Should I have asked for more expansive tests?

Hi there,

I’ve been having a range of issues for close to a year now - it started off with floaters and seeing spots, which was then followed by a bout of flu-like symptoms. At first I thought it must have been just a bout of flu/general fatigue, but what followed was a range of vision problems (issues with focusing my vision/double vision, sensitivity to light), and an onset of brain fog and concentration difficulties.

I went to the GP who said it could be a case of chronic fatigue, post-viral effects or just stress andanxiety. I had some blood work done and everything came back normal.

A year later, while the symptons haven’t been as severe, I’m still battling with reoccurring brain fog throughout the day, pressure headaches (temples, neck, top of my head), general fatigue and ongoing problems with focusing my vision at times. I’ve also had problems with prostatitis/sexual difficulties which, as I’ve just read, can also potentially be linked to MS.

I went to the GP again this morning, who referred me for some brain scans, and mentioned the possibility of MS as a result of these general symptoms having gone on for a while.

While I understand that there is a possibility that this could potentially be MS, I’m also aware that it could be a range of other problems. Would it have been wiser to request a range of more expansive blood work? My GP looked at blood test results that had been done in the last 6 months which came back normal, but as far as I’m aware it was pretty much a standard set of results. While I wait for my MRI, which won’t happen for another 4 weeks, is there any other tests I can request in the meantime?

Hi Boop, and welcome.

You rightly recognize that these symptoms are non-specific, and could be caused by a whole range of issues.

Without knowing exactly what was tested for last time, it’s difficult to know whether you should have pressed for more. However, MS doesn’t show in blood anyway. MRI is by far the leading diagnostic tool - but not the only one.

MS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means it can only be diagnosed when all other possibilities have been ruled out. I was told my blood was tested for over 100 things - only about half-a-dozen of which I could name, and some that are extremely rare. So I couldn’t even begin to tell you everything that should be tested as part of a proper MS investigation. But I’ve no doubt these tests will be called for - any that haven’t been done already, that is - unless your MRI shows quite clearly that you have a different problem - e.g. that you’ve had a stroke. Even if your MRI is strongly indicative of MS (evidence of demyelinating lesions) they would still want to run all the tests, as there are a few potentially lesion-inducing conditions that could produce markers in the blood - albeit that MS isn’t one of them.

Do keep in mind that although MS is the most common disabling neurological disease in young people, it’s still rare, at about 1 in 1000 to 1 in 800 people. So statistically, the chances that you have it remain small - although I know that won’t stop you worrying about it.

I’m guessing you would already have been tested for things like vitamin deficiencies, as part of your original blood tests? These can be an easily fixable cause of MS-like symptoms. Deficiencies in Vitamins D, and B12, in particular, can produce similar symptoms, although confusingly, many people with actual MS are also deficient in these. Nobody knows whether it’s cause or effect - i.e. are their symptoms because they’re deficient, or are they using up those vitamins at a higher rate, leaving them deficient, because of the underlying disease process?

I don’t know if I’ve really answered your question. I don’t think you can go to the GP with a list of 100+ things you think should be tested (even if I could name them all for you - which I can’t). You might just ask whether there have been any vitamin checks. Other than that, I think my advice boils down to wait and see, and try not to get too stressed with “What ifs”.

I’m sorry I can’t be more help,

Tina