The signs of NMOSD aren’t at all subtle. They usually happen quickly—and there’s no soft-pedaling it, the symptoms can be alarming. Still, they range in degree of seriousness and are different for everyone. Milder symptoms tend to be the exception, but they also can occur.
Most of the time you absolutely know that something serious has happened. That’s because the optic nerve and spinal cord aren’t that thick, so any injury done to the tissue can wreak havoc on the pathways that communicate with the brain.
The inflammation can happen anywhere along the optic nerve (which goes from the back of your eye through the skull to the brain), and you typically have the following symptoms in one eye (though sometimes both can be involved):
Inflammation of the optic nerve (also known as optic neuritis, or ON) tends to be more common in people younger than 35, and when children and teens develop NMOSD, it usually involves the optic nerve.
The inflammation can happen along any part of it, and the location influences which part of your body experiences symptoms. Symptoms are primarily motor (affecting your ability to move) or sensory (what you feel):
Spinal cord attacks (also known as transverse myelitis, or TM) are more common among those over 35, although no one knows why.
An attack here is super rare, but when it does occur, it usually affects a small area called the postrema that controls vomiting. Those symptoms last two or three weeks and can be intense, but they go away (even on their own) and usually don’t come back. They include: