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Rapid Deterioration of Physical and Mental Health

Hello all,

My mother (52 years) was diagnosed with MS relapsing-remitting in 1997. The progression of her disease was slow and steady over the years till about 2 months ago. It started with her speech slurring, and very slow thinking and reaction to conversation. Any advice on treatment or any relatable incident you went through would help me at this time. Today she has the following symptoms and this all happened in a span of 2 months:

  • Problems with memory
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Low levels of initiative or motivation
  • Emotional “numbness”
  • Poor mental acuity (“fuzzy thinking”)
  • Problems with balance, body awareness, or coordination
  • Indecisiveness
  • Problems with planning or organization
  • Problems with abstract thinking, judgment, or reasoning
  • Problems understanding what you read or hear
  • Poor concentration
  • Preservation (you “get stuck” on a thought, or a behavior)
  • Problems with recognition (for instance, you can see it, but it doesn’t register)
  • Processing delays (afterimages, trails, ringing in your ears)
  • Poor reflective awareness (you’re not aware, or conscious of yourself)
  • Poor selective attention (you can’t choose what you want to think about, look at, or listen to)

My only suggestion is to contact MS Nurse and seek their advise. I have only physical disability due to ppms. It’s not the same but my mother had early dementia so I understand your worry and concern. BL

Hi, Is your mother still classed as relapsing remitting, that you know of? If so, the simplest explanation for a sudden, marked deterioration in a relatively short space of time is that she’s had/is having a relapse. This is a natural characteristic of the disease, although I find it quite surprising that you haven’t witnessed anything similar before, in over 15 years. Relapses are usually at least partially reversible - i.e. faculties are regained as the relapse passes, although not always to their pre-relapse extent. Another thing that can cause sudden deterioration mimicking a relapse is any kind of infection. Respiratory infections (even as simple as a cold) and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common culprits, but any infection has the potential to cause a temporary exacerbation of MS symptoms. I agree with the previous poster that MS nurse, or failing that GP should be contacted. It can then be assessed whether it IS a relapse, in which case a course of steroids may be offered, or due to something like an infection, in which case treatment of the infection may see an improvement. It is possible it is just natural progression, but the suddenness makes me suspect something else is at play. Tina

Thanks Tina. We had to put a catheter in she had a full bladder but was unable to urinate for some time. We are assuming that was the cause of infection in her body. She is on antibiotics. We will have to wait for another 3 to 4 days for the infection to clear and then go for the IV steroids course.

The last relapse she had was in 2000-2001. After that the treatment was doing a great job at controlling the progression. Its normal for the deterioration to continue, however such rapid deterioration was what had me worried.

Her drowsiness and responsiveness is much better after four doses of antibiotics. Lets hope and pray this works and she gets back to normal.

Thank you so much for the reassurance!

I was going to suggest,that it could well be a urine infection.they can cause a hell of a lot of confusion and drowsiness,lets hope your mum makes more progress,im sure she will now.

J x

Another question - she has been halucinating a bit as well. Sees things which are clearly not there. Any idea if in a relapse your mind plays games on you?

A typical relapse does not cause hallucinations, no. Then again, there’s not really any such thing as the typical relapse. Symptoms depend on where in the central nervous system lesions happen to form, so there’s not a standard set that everybody gets. I couldn’t absolutely rule out that lesions in some parts of the brain might cause hallucinations, but I would say it’s not common. High fever associated with an infection might sometimes cause hallucinations. Some drugs (but not antibiotics, I don’t think) might also have hallucinatory side-effects. Check patient information leaflets of anything you’re suspicious of, to see if it’s listed as a possible side-effect. But don’t discontinue anything abruptly. If you suspect any of your mother’s medicine is contributing to her confusion, have a word with the GP or MS nurse, to see if she should cut down or switch to something else. I find even codeine (available over the counter) mildly hallucinogenic. I’m OK if I’m up and about, but if I take too much before bed, I get weird half-sleeping, half-waking dreams, such as seeing things in the room I know aren’t real. Tina

Hi, the first thing that came to my mind, was a urine infection too. These can be responsible for a lot of the things your poor mum is suffering with.

This sudden severe deterioration should be investigated asap.

I do hope things improve for your mum.

luv Pollx

Just a thought; if your Mum is 52 then also consider the effects of menopause which may also combine with the MS symptoms

Menopause symptoms can be quite debilitating even for non MS suffers

If your Mum is 52 please also consider whether the menopause may be contributing to her symptoms.