Multiple sclerosis paroxysmal symptoms confused with seizures due to sudden onset

Multiple sclerosis paroxysmal symptoms confused with seizures due to sudden onsetMultiple sclerosis paroxysmal symptoms can be confused with seizures due to its sudden onset. Paroxysmal symptoms are unique to multiple sclerosis (MS) and involve unusual sensations or muscular contractions. The main differences between multiple sclerosis paroxysmal symptoms and epileptic seizures are that paroxysmal symptoms do not cause short-circuiting of brain waves and do not have other features in the brain, such as epileptic seizures.

Paroxysmal symptoms can be sudden but are short lasting, and if symptoms last for several days, it could be due to exacerbation or relapse. There are many conditions and symptoms that can trigger paroxysmal symptoms, including fatigue, change in temperature, emotional changes, or a sudden change in body position.

Types of paroxysmal symptoms in MS


Many symptoms of multiple sclerosis can appear and disappear. Here are the most common ones:

  • Types of paroxysmal symptoms in MSDiplopia: double vision caused by weakness in muscles that control the eyes
  • Paresthesia: abnormal sensations described as burning, tingling, prickling, itching, numbness or pins and needles
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: intense pain occurring in the lower part of the face
  • Ataxia: unsteadiness or lack of coordination
  • Dysarthria: speech disorder where pronunciation is unclear, even when the meaning of what is said is correct
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Pruritus: severe itchiness
  • Akinesia: being unable to move
  • Seizures
  • Dystonia: impaired or disordered muscle tone that slows movement or extended muscle spasm

These symptoms typically do not last long, but in the moment they can become quite severe. Unfortunately, paroxysmal symptoms can reoccur or happen several times throughout the day. Medications can be prescribed in order to control them.

Paroxysmal symptoms not to be confused with MS seizures

Seizures can occur in those with multiple sclerosis, and it’s estimated that they affect two to five percent of patients. Similar to paroxysmal symptoms, seizures, too, have a sudden onset, which is why the two conditions can be confused.

Paroxysmal symptoms not to be confused with MS seizuresCommon seizures that can occur in MS patients include:

  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizure – brief episode of unconsciousness and uncontrollable movement
  • Generalized absence seizures – momentary lapse of consciousness without abnormal movement
  • Partial complex seizures – episodes of stereotyped repetitive movement where a person appears awake but does not respond

Treatment of paroxysmal symptoms in MS

There are many triggers that can cause paroxysmal symptom, so by identifying triggers you can reduce the risk of experiencing them. For example, moving your body into a certain position or being too hot can trigger paroxysmal symptoms. Avoiding such situations could reduce their frequency.

There may also be triggers that you are not aware of, so it is useful to keep a diary or make note of when episodes of paroxysmal symptoms occur.  You can track settings, movements, foods, or anything else that may have occurred prior to the episode so you can avoid it in the future.

Speaking to your doctor is also important for treatment; they can offer medications for specific symptoms.

It’s important to note that experiencing paroxysmal symptoms does not indicate an MS relapse or that multiple sclerosis is worsening. Paroxysmal symptoms occur due to stimulation. For the best treatment, it’s important to identify triggers and stimulants for better control.

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Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.