Symptoms of fulminant MS are similar to those of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). The main difference between the two conditions is speed. Fulminant MS develops rapidly, while RRMS can develop over the course of many years. Symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling in feet or hands
- Vision problems, such as temporary blindness or double vision
- Spasticity or stiffness
- Bowel and bladder problems, such as urgent need for urination
- Problems with cognition, such as learning and memory or information processing
Patients may experience these symptoms suddenly and without much warning. After the first onset of symptoms, patients generally experience more relapse episodes and rapid deterioration of their neurological and physical abilities over a short period of time.
Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of fulminant MS is unknown, and the condition itself is still relatively uncommon. The condition appears to mostly affect children and young adults.
Since the risk of multiple sclerosis is significantly higher when a parent has been diagnosed with the disease, genetic factors may play a role. The unusual relationship between a person's geographic location during childhood and the risk of MS later in life suggests that there may be environmental factors at work in the disease.