MS doesn’t only affect adults. Childhood Multiple Sclerosis afflicts around 8,000 to 10,000 children in the US alone. Parents who learn about childhood MS symptoms are able to receive an accurate diagnosis for their child as quickly as possible. Multiple Sclerosis is by no means curable, as of yet, but easing the symptoms and slowing the progression of this autoimmune disease can make daily living more enjoyable.
A small percentage of MS patients whose symptoms appear before the age of 18 years are more difficult to diagnose than an adult. Symptoms of MS in kids can mimic a number of other childhood diseases and illnesses, which is why doctors find it challenging to accurately diagnose MS in kids. Most pediatricians aren’t trained to look for MS in children either, since this is a disease that tends to affect adults instead.
Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are very similar in adults and children, for the most part. However, there are a few atypical symptoms children experience that adults don’t, such as seizures and lethargy that causes mental changes. Additional symptoms include; numbness, tingling, muscle spasms, blurred vision, trouble walking, slurred speech, difficulty with thought process, weakness in limbs, and fatigue. While these are some of the most common symptoms of MS, there are around 50 associated with the disease and not all are present in each individual. They can range from mild to severe as well and tend to come and go over time during early onset of MS.
Symptoms might affect academic performance in school, peer relationships, and even relationships between other family members and the child with MS. Counseling is available to help with how children react to any number of MS symptoms.
Managing Childhood MS
Treating and managing MS in children can be accomplished through medications, physical therapy, support groups, a loving family, and understanding friends. Not all MS medications are approved for use in children and any drugs provided will need to be monitored by the child’s doctor to make sure the dose is appropriate. The initial drug may not work as expected, which can cause a trial and error stage. Symptoms can be managed through medications used for adults, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy.
Allowing children to be a part of the treatment and management of their disease can make the diagnosis of childhood Multiple Sclerosis seem less scary to them. Managing childhood MS symptoms tend to help kids maintain a life as stress-free as possible and hopefully help them feel less different than their friends.