What are typical NMO Symptoms?

Jeffrey Bennett, MD, PhD – University of Colorado Denver:

The symptoms of NMO are symptoms that predominantly affect the optic nerves or spinal cord. Because NMO can affect areas outside of these regions, the optic nerve and spinal cord aren’t the sole symptoms of where NMO can cause neurologic dysfunction. For the optic nerve, the symptoms are going to be vision loss, often associated with eye pain or pain on eye movement. For the spinal cord, the symptoms can be numbness, weakness, incoordination, changes in bowel or bladder function as well as pain or discomfort, often described as a tightening or band sensation around the trunk.

In addition, there are other particular symptoms that are notably associated with neuromyelitis optica, including protracted nausea and vomiting, changes in sleep habits, compulsive sleeping termed narcolepsy, as well as changes in eating behavior and changes in thinking.

When to be concerned that there is a new symptom that’s associated with an NMO attack is when these neurologic symptoms last for 24 hours or longer, but because that’s often a clinical association made important in clinical trial work, we often ask NMO patients to contact us as soon as possible because the sooner we can address those symptoms, the better the outcome often can be.

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