ZocdocAnswersDoes MS cause staring?

Question

Does MS cause staring?

My sister, age 24, was just diagnosed with MS. We're all sort of reeling and trying to figure out what this means. I was hoping it could explain the way that she stares, and seemingly can't snap out of it. She can't explain that behavior herself. Could this be the MS?

Answer

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease characterized by flares of inflammation in the "white matter" portion of the brain and spinal , which is involved in conducting the nerve signals around to their appropriate destinations. Therefore, the symptoms of multiple sclerosis are numerous, as everything depends on where the area of inflammation is and, therefore, which types of nerve signals are affected. Some common types of symptoms include visual problems and muscle weakness. However, it is certainly possible for attention or the personality to be affected by multiple sclerosis (in the same way a stroke would affect these features); usually, however, this is a later consequence of multiple sclerosis. It is also worth thinking about other possible causes for this behavior. For example, grief, anxiety, or depression from this recent diagnosis could strongly affect your sister's mood and might be contributing to her behavior. These problems are common with a new serious illness diagnosis and could be treated by a primary care doctor or a psychiatrist. Finally, if these staring episodes seem to be involuntary and associated with a change in level of consciousness, they may be signs of a seizure problem. Regardless, the first step would be to have her talk to her neurologist or primary care doctor about it and have a good neurologic examination.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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