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Depression, Constipation, And UTIs May Signal Early Multiple Sclerosis, Study Finds

New research suggests that certain symptoms could be precursors to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Depression and constipation may be early signs of multiple sclerosis, warns a new study.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) may also precede an MS diagnosis, say scientists.

They explained that, in some diseases, the underlying processes can start years before a diagnosis is made.

The new research showed that people who later develop multiple sclerosis (MS) are more likely to have conditions including depression, constipation and UTIs five years before their MS diagnosis than people who do not develop MS.

Depression and constipation may be early signs of multiple sclerosis, warns a new study. LIZA SUMMER/PEXELS

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also found that sexual problems and bladder infections, or cystitis, are more likely in people who later develop MS.

The conditions were also more likely to occur in people who had other autoimmune diseases, lupus and Crohn’s disease, according to the findings.

Study author Professor Celine Louapre said: “Knowing that these conditions may be prodromal symptoms or even early-stage symptoms of MS would not necessarily lead to earlier diagnosis of the disease in the general population, since these conditions are common and could also be signs of other diseases.

“But this information could be helpful for people who are at a higher risk of developing MS, such as people with a family history of the disease or those who show signs of MS on brain scans but do not have any symptoms of the disease.”

The study involved more than 20,000 people newly diagnosed with MS.

They were each matched with three people who did not have MS of the same age and sex, for a total of 54,790 people.


Then the people with MS were also compared to more than 30,000 people with Crohn’s disease and 7,337 people with lupus.

MS, Crohn’s disease and lupus are all autoimmune diseases. They all affect women more often than men and affect young adults.

The research team then used the medical records database to see whether the participants had any of 113 diseases and symptoms in the five years before and after their diagnosis, or before that matching date for the people who did not have an autoimmune disease.

The people with MS were 22 percent more likely to have depression five years before their diagnosis than the people without MS.

They were 50 percent more likely to have constipation, 38 percent more likely to have urinary tract infections, 47 percent more likely to have sexual problems, and 21 percent more likely to have cystitis or bladder infections.

For depression, 14 percent of the people with MS had prescriptions for antidepressants five years before diagnosis, compared to 10 percent of the people who did not have MS.

Depression and constipation may be early signs of multiple sclerosis, warns a new study. GIORGIO TROVATO/UNSPLASH

By five years after diagnosis, 37 percent of people with MS had antidepressant prescriptions, compared to just 19 percent of those without MS.

Louapre, of Sorbonne University in Paris, France, said: “Of course, not everyone who has these symptoms will go on to develop MS.

“We’re hoping that eventually, these early signs will help us understand the biological mechanisms that occur in the body before the actual symptoms of the disease develop.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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