ALS and MS Symptom Differences
Vision: In ALS, people lose control of voluntary muscle movement, but usually retain the ability to see. In MS, vision can be affected by optic neuritis or nystagmus.
Sensory Symptoms: Some people with ALS do report tingling (parasthesia); however, this is not a common symptom and it usually goes away. Sensory symptoms are much, much more common in people with MS, as people with MS often experience a range of unpleasant sensory symptoms, such as parasthesias and pain.
- Numbness and Tingling as a Symptom of Multiple Sclerosis
- Overview of Pain as a Symptom of Multiple Sclerosis
Bladder and Bowel Symptoms: It is estimated that over 90% of people with MS experience bladder dysfunction, including incontinence, at some point. People with ALS usually do not experience urinary incontinence; however, urinary "urgency" is fairly common. Both people with MS and ALS experience constipation, but people with MS are more likely to experience bowel incontinence (diarrhea) than people with ALS.
Because nerves controlling many bodily functions (voluntary and involuntary) are affected in MS, some symptoms of MS and ALS are similar -– often rare symptoms of MS are common symptoms of ALS. For an example of this, read my blog, especially the comments from people with MS: Fasciculations (Muscle Twitches) and MS?
If you have a strange symptom that has you worried or impacts your life in a negative way, talk to your neurologist. He or she will probably reassure you that it is just another unpredictable, funky "MS thing" or tell you that there is no connection, but it is nothing to worry about (which usually annoys me). However, if you are really concerned, your doc can evaluate you to rule out other diseases.