Balance problems? Fatigue? Weakness? These symptoms probably sound all too familiar to anyone living with multiple sclerosis (MS), as these are just a couple of the many MS symptoms that we live with. However, they are also some of the symptoms of PML - progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy - the dangerous brain infection that is associated with use of Tysabri.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Is Tysabri-Related PML Underdiagnosed? the similarities of the symptoms of PML could lead people with MS and their doctors to mistakenly believe that they are having an MS relapse, rather than recognizing the symptoms of PML. This could result in delayed diagnosis of PML, a disease where a quick diagnosis and treatment could significantly limit brain damage.
While many of the symptoms of MS and PML are similar, there are also important differences. The symptoms of PML tend to be more rapid in onset and more severe. There are also a couple, like seizures, that are far more prevalent in PML than in MS (although they do happen in MS, too - Seizures as a Symptom of Multiple Sclerosis).
I've put together an article with more detail about the symptoms of PML and how they differ from the symptoms of MS. If you take Tysabri, you might want to print this out and keep it handy, as well as share it with loved ones, who may recognize our symptoms before we do. However, I'll repeat my bottom line - if you are on Tysabri and feel like you might be having a relapse, or feel any strange or more severe symptoms, contact your doctor. Request that he or she run tests (mainly a lumbar puncture to look for JC virus) to rule out PML.
Read the full article: Symptoms of PML (Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy)